Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over. Source
With this blog, I am lucky enough to meet other people who are trying to spread awareness about mental illness. One day while skimming through my email I came across an email from the app nOCD. They had contacted me about working together to help people suffering from OCD. My dream is to spread the word about natural mental health aids. The universe had connected me to this app and I knew I had to explore it more.
It is offered on Apple devices only at this time but, soon to be on Android. When I downloaded the app I was pleasantly surprised by the professionalism. I was able to learn the ins and outs of the app rather quickly. nOCD utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
CBT is “a time-sensitive, structured, present-oriented psychotherapy directed toward solving current problems and teaching clients skills to modify dysfunctional thinking and behavior.”
ACT gets it name from one of its core messages: accept what is out of your personal control, and commit to action that improves and enriches your life. Source
In the app, there is a Ybocs test that is used to measure your OCD. It consists of ten question and rates your OCD level from minor, mild, moderate, severe, and extreme. The nOCD app is free which makes treatment more assessable therefore helping all people. The app uses specifically Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) therapy to help guide you through your treatment.
The Exposure in ERP refers to exposing yourself to the thoughts, images, objects, and situations that make you anxious and/or start your obsessions. While the Response Prevention part of ERP refers to making a choice not to do a compulsive behavior once the anxiety or obsessions have been “triggered.” All of this is done under the guidance of a therapist at the beginning — though you will eventually learn to do your own ERP exercises to help manage your symptoms. Source
How Someone Who Suffers from Anxiety Decided to Explore an app on OCD…
I have battled most of my life with anxiety but I am not as familiar with OCD. Even though I wouldn’t consider myself to have OCD, I still wanted to really check out the app before writing about it. The app was very easy to mold into helping me with my anxiety. I created my plan by forming it around my own obsessive anxieties. I don’t think I participate in compulsions or maybe in my own way avoiding situations is my compulsion. Below I provide examples of how I set up my hierarchy but, everyone’s plan will be different.
How to Use nOCD
Making a Plan
To use the app I started with first making my hierarchy. This only took me about fifteen minutes. It probably would have been less time if I was more in touch with my obsessions, triggers, and compulsions.
The first part was typing in one of my obsessive thoughts. Obsessions are a fear, distressing thought, and/or impulses. Luckily, nOCD asked me questions or had me finish a sentence such as I always worry that…This really helped me get specific with what I wanted to place in each box.
My obsessive thought
I will embarrass myself.
To work on each obsession I had to figure out what my triggers are. A trigger starts your obsessive thoughts. The next part of creating my hierarchy was to list different triggers. After I listed a trigger the app asked me to rate the amount of anxiety this trigger causes on a scale of 1 to 10. The app organized my triggers from least to most. nOCD recommends you start slow and work your way to triggers that cause you the most anxiety.
Talking to new people
Going to places a lot of people will be
Talking on the phone to customer service.
Underneath my triggers, I listed what I would expose myself too that would trigger my anxious thoughts. I made sure the first exposure I wanted to work on had a yellow star. The stared exposure began my journey to conquering my first obsession.
Starting My Plan
Avoiding these situations or replaying conversations over and over in my head.
Critiquing what I could have said differently.
Each day I worked on my starred exposure. The first day I started by going to a baby shower and having a conversation with people. All I was expecting of myself was not to run away when I was approached by someone who wanted to have small talk. While I was exposing myself to this trigger I had to prevent myself from becoming a wallflower. I knew most of the people in the room but, my anxiety told me any conversation might lead to me making a fool of myself. I did not run away so I guess in a way I succeeded. The SOS button gave me a comforting message later on when I was relaying each conversation in my head.
“Maybe I will embarrass myself I will accept the uncertainty and move on”
Is going to new places by myself.
Usually, when I experience something new I will ponder over every bad scenario that could happen. This prevents me from doing most things. Especially if the events consist of me attending by myself. Since using this app I have gone to a healing workshop by myself and the mentioned baby shower. I still have anxious thoughts afterward but it gets better and better with each exposure.
If you have more questions the nOCD app is great at answering them. While skimming through the app there were help buttons that explained each part in detail. Another amazing tool is nOCD tracks your progress. The app also offers the ability to send the pictured information directly to your therapist through email.
There was an OCD sufferer out there who knew there was a need for an app like this in the world. With help from a team of outstanding individuals, he made it happen. Now they are using the information they gather to help learn more about treatment for OCD. I encourage anyone who is diagnosed or thinks they might be struggling with OCD to download this free app. Dealing with OCD or any other mental illness is a journey. Take your time you are getting better every day.