by Kat Black
A British non-profit is debuting an app for young people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) this summer. OCD Action, the UK’s largest charity for obsessive- compulsive disorder, designed the app to supplement the treatment of sufferers aged 13-25.
It works by reproducing exposure and response prevention (ERP). This
is a two-part exercise in which the patient is exposed to situations that induce obsessive “triggers” and then refuses to engage in compulsive behaviours around them.
“The primary feature is working with the therapist to build a list of exposure tasks,” explains Olivia Bamber, the youth services and communications manager at OCD Action. “Then you can start a task on [the app] and rate your anxiety at five-minute intervals.”
Bamber said that the earlier patients with OCD receives treatment, the likelier they will be able to respond effectively to it.
Stephen Smith, an American with OCD who developed a similar app titled nOCD, said:
“The point is that there is not enough available data. It’s really difficult for a provider to fully understand what exactly is happening.”
In addition to lack of information on the disorder, patients may face difficulties in finding specialist clinicians. Smith said that it can take people an average of 14-17 years to get treatment.
One important function of OCD apps is the sense of community they provide through links to helplines or online forums.
“Connecting with other people is a hugely positive thing for people’s journey of
recovery,” Bamber said.
However, she admits that the use of the app itself may turn into a compulsion if not carefully monitored by a professional.
“We would only suggest people use our app if they’re in therapy,” she said.
Featured Image: Screenshot from the nOCDApp / by Kat Black