An app for those with OCD

Live OCD Free / Today

You may not be OCD if you're on your phone all the time, checking and rechecking the same texts, tweets and emails; that just may make you the new "normal." But if you do have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and know full well that it's no laughing matter, a new iPhone app may be able to offer you some additional help with modifying your behaviors.

The app, "Live OCD Free" costs $80, so it's really for those who are serious about tackling their issues. It can be used in conjunction with therapy you're receiving, or as a stand-alone program. The app includes a program for adults, as well as another one for children, along with a parent's guide to using the app.

Massachusetts psychologist Kristen Mulcahy, who specializes in OCD treatment, created the app as a way to help patients minimize and overcome OCD behaviors, while also helping to reduce the overwhelming sense of anxiety that is ever-present.

"OCD is a very challenging disorder," she said in a press release. "To get better, you have to work at it every day. Live OCD Free gives patients confidence, support, motivation and resources in an easy to use program so they can work through their obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.”

The app uses what is known as Exposure and Response Prevention therapy to let OCD patients:

... create individualized treatment plans that map out challenges and exercises, known as “exposures,” for OCD sufferers to practice in conjunction with their therapists or as a self-help tool. During the exercises, app users face their fears and resist compulsions to, for example, excessively wash their hands, until their anxiety subsides.

There are also relaxation and meditation exercises in the app, including prerecorded or customizable motivational messages. When a challenge is mastered, the user is prompted to move onto to the next exercise. Users can also set their own compulsion-resisting goals and reward for progress.

A tutorial about the app is shown below.

Can something like this really help? Preliminary research results show that those who are using the app as a self-help tool — sans therapy —  had a 26 percent decrease in their OCD symptoms, Mulcahy contends. She says more research will be done, and she is planning to team up with "larger treatment centers to conduct further research in the near future."

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