Doctor Creates “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” Mobile App

Written by on September 28, 2012 in Research & Technology - No comments

Technology in medicine has things on the move and in constant change. And now there’s some high tech help for those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

OCD is an intrusive anxiety disorder that produces uneasiness, apprehension, fear or worry.  Those afflicted are plagued by repetitive behaviors they believe will reduce their anxiety or by a combination of obsessions and compulsions. The often misunderstood, alienating and time-consuming symptoms of the disorder can include excessive washing or cleaning; repeated checking; extreme hoarding; preoccupation with sexual, violent or religious thoughts; relationship-related obsessions; aversion to particular numbers; and nervous rituals, such as opening and closing a door a certain number of times before entering or leaving a room. To others, they may appear paranoid and even psychotic.  What may be worse, OCD patients generally recognize their irrational behavior causing deeper emotional distress.

Left untreated, OCD symptoms can progress to the point to where leading a normal life becomes impossible.  Sufferers may become consumed, while behaviors impede their ability to work and maintain or enjoy important relationships. Many people with OCD have suicidal thoughts.

Medication is usually part of treatment along with:

Cognitive behavioral psychotherapy — Cognitive/behavioral therapists help patients change the negative styles of thinking and behaving that are often associated with the anxiety involved with obsessive compulsive disorder.

Behavioral therapies — Behavioral therapies for OCD include ritual prevention and exposure therapy. A mental-health professional can assist through prevention of rituals which involves encouraging the OCD sufferer to endure longer and longer periods of resisting the urge to engage in their compulsive behaviors.  Exposure therapy is the process by which the individual is put in touch with situations that tend to increase the OCD sufferers need to engage in compulsions and helping them resist doing so.

Dr. Kristen Mulcahy is an expert in the use of Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy.  Dr. Mulcahy received her Ph.D. in clinical/school psychology from Hofstra University. She developed a specialty in OCD spectrum disorders through research and clinical work at the Bio-Behavioral Institute, an internationally renowned treatment and research center in New York.  She is currently the director of the Cognitive Behavioral Institute in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Dr. Mulcahy’s research and 15 years of treating ODC sufferers through ERP led to the creation of a mobile health therapy application that puts often much needed treatment in the hands of the patient full time. The application was developed in collaboration with leading professionals, sustained rigorous pilot testing and was extensively researched to support efficacy.  According to Dr. Mulcahy, the interactive application, “Live OCD Free”, has been designed to guide users through the only evidence-based treatment for OCD.  OCD sufferers can now carry along their own personal pocket therapist, available at any time to help coach them through their battles with this debilitating and consuming mental disorder.

The application can be easily downloaded and includes video tutorials and a comprehensive user guide. Users are prompted upon completion to move from one exercise to the next and can set daily reminders to practice their challenges. They can set their own compulsion-resisting goals and receive rewards for making progress. Plus, the app tracks the user’s progress and sends reports directly to their therapist. There are two versions currently available, one for adults and one for children which is set up to played like a game.

There is an estimated 4 million people in the United States suffering with OCD many of which don’t receive treatment or have access to a therapist.  These stats are what motivated Dr. Mulcahy to develop “Live ODC Free”.

Dr. Kristin Mulcahy. (n.d.). About Dr. Kristen Mulcahy. In OCD: Real Stories, Real Help. Retrieved September 21, 2012, from http://drkristenmulcahy.com/about-dr-kristen-mulcahy/.

Retrieved September 21, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obsessive%E2%80%93compulsive_disorder.

By Monica Menezes Irwin

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