Updated: May 2, 2019
The often debilitating mental health disorder, OCD, now has a platform for awareness that's an accessible resource to many. This app, called nOCD, is available for download at the end of this post!
OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a mental illness where a sufferer has intrusive and sometimes upsetting, uncontrollable thoughts (words, images, feelings, memories, anxieties, etc.) called obsessions. Obsessions can then cause compulsions, or actions/behaviors one does and can't control, to try to decrease any discomfort or stress from the obsessive thoughts.
Here are some trustworthy definitions from reliable sources of some of the terms above:
What is OCD?
"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. People with OCD may have symptoms of obsessions, compulsions, or both. These symptoms can interfere with all aspects of life, such as work, school, and personal relationships." -NIMH
"Anyone who has obsessive doubts or worries that seriously interfere with the quality of his or her life may be diagnosed with OCD. While OCD is technically a brain disorder, it is usually considered to be a mental illness. Many people describe it as a mental hiccup because they find that their brains get fixated on a single event, such as hand-washing, and won’t let go, so they repeat the event over and over again. Some people with OCD can be completely cured after treatment. Others may still have OCD, but they can enjoy significant relief from their symptoms. Treatments typically employ both medication and lifestyle changes including behavior modification therapy." -PsychGuides
What are obsessions?
"Obsessions are thoughts, images or impulses that occur over and over again and feel outside of the person’s control. Individuals with OCD do not want to have these thoughts and find them disturbing. In most cases, people with OCD realize that these thoughts don’t make any sense. Obsessions are typically accompanied by intense and uncomfortable feelings such as fear, disgust, doubt, or a feeling that things have to be done in a way that is “just right.” In the context of OCD, obsessions are time consuming and get in the way of important activities the person values. This last part is extremely important to keep in mind as it, in part, determines whether someone has OCD — a psychological disorder — rather than an obsessive personality trait." -IOCDF
"Obsessions are repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety. Common symptoms include:
Fear of germs or contamination
Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, and harm
Aggressive thoughts towards others or self
Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order" -NIMH
What are compulsions?
"Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels the urge to do in response to an obsessive thought. Common compulsions include:
Excessive cleaning and/or hand-washing
Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way
Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off
Compulsive counting" -NIMH
"Compulsive hand-washing and opening a door repeatedly are commonly used as signs of OCD on television. People with OCD may experience these compulsions in real life, but compulsions also come in many other forms. Examples include checking lights, counting items, arranging things in sets, repeating thoughts a number of times, hoarding, and praying. While most of these acts are fine in moderation, it is their repetitive nature that makes these compulsions signs of OCD. The overwhelming need to perform these actions is also part of a clinical definition of OCD." -PsychGuides
What isn't OCD?
"Unfortunately, “obsessing” or “being obsessed” are commonly used terms in every day language. These more casual uses of the word means that someone is preoccupied with a topic or an idea or even a person. “Obsessed” in this everyday sense doesn’t involve problems in day-to-day living and even has a pleasurable component to it. You can be “obsessed” with a new song you hear on the radio, but you can still meet your friend for dinner, get ready for bed in a timely way, get to work on time in the morning, etc., despite this obsession. In fact, individuals with OCD have a hard time hearing this usage of “obsession” as it feels as though it diminishes their struggle with OCD symptoms.
Similar to obsessions, not all repetitive behaviors or “rituals” are compulsions. For example, bedtime routines, religious practices, and learning a new skill all involve some level of repeating an activity over and over again, but are usually a positive and functional part of daily life. Behaviors depend on the context. Arranging and ordering books for eight hours a day isn’t a compulsion if the person works in a library. Similarly, you may have “compulsive” behaviors that wouldn’t fall under OCD, if you are just a stickler for details or like to have things neatly arranged. In this case, “compulsive” refers to a personality trait or something about yourself that you actually prefer or like. In most cases, individuals with OCD feel driven to engage in compulsive behavior and would rather not have to do these time consuming and many times torturous acts. In OCD, compulsive behavior is done with the intention of trying to escape or reduce anxiety or the presence of obsessions." -IOCDF
26 Pictures That Show What OCD Really 'Looks' Like by The Mighty
The Ultimate, Clinically-Supported Free App for Treatment of OCD!
nOCD is a newer app (circa late 2016, I believe) creating easily available treatment for those who suffer from the mental health disorder, OCD. It's background in OCD includes partnering with top OCD specialists and researchers, while employing those who have personal experience with OCD (either themselves, or someone they know).
This free app guides users through clinically-supported treatment, and even collects data (never personal health data) and feedback that allows it to find what works best! It also has a section where users can join the community and get support from others.
I got to interview Mike, a member of the nOCD team, here's what he said!
1. On your website, creator Stephen explains why he thought help on a smartphone would be beneficial. Why do you feel an app was the right platform for OCD support and treatment?
"Usually a person only spends 1 hour per week in therapy. What about the other 167 hours in a week? With the chronic nature of OCD, the nOCD app provides people with the missing piece of the treatment process."
2. What do you feel is unique about the services/support nOCD provides that others don't?
"We are focused solely on OCD. We are now backed by some of the leading healthcare tech entrepreneurs in the world who will assist us with guidance and scalability to reach more people in need. The app gives guidance in the moment of OCD episodes, a structured platform to do CBT [Cognitive Behavioral Therapy] exercises, a major community to talk with others around the world about everything related to this disorder, seamless ability to share data with a therapist/treatment team, and real-time data 24/7."
3. Why/How do you think it's important that the members of the team have personal experience (themselves or with someone they know) with OCD?
"Each of our team members either has OCD or knows someone close to them who does. Many of us have had unique experiences with the whole treatment process. We know this area and we know it well. We not only know about it, but we are demanding there be changes made to a completely broken industry. Due to OCD being such a misunderstood mental illness with so many misconceptions, it takes the right team to solve these problems, and we are confident that we're the correct people to do this."
4. What is important for those not suffering from OCD to know about those who are suffering?
"That for the majority of the people out there, it's a completely hidden illness and a lot of it's all in your head. From living with OCD for such a long time, people get creative with how they manage the anxiety/stress and can carry out rituals that not many people pick up on. Although this message is spreading more and more these days, those not suffering should realize that OCD is not a joke, and making jokes/ignorant comments about it only adds to the misconceptions surrounding this disorder."
5. What advice would you give for those in the recovery/management process of OCD?
"If you're able to find out what you value most, you can keep those things in mind when the obsessive-compulsive symptoms start to come back. The anxiety wants you to do something with urgency in the present moment, but when you know that it's not in line with what you really want in life you might be more able to reorient yourself and keep moving forward instead of getting stuck. Keep trucking along and whatever you do, do not give up. Sounds like a cliche answer, but I think it strongly applies to living with OCD. Try different treatment methods, live a healthy lifestyle, but don't obsess over these things.. just continue to move forward and not let OCD win. The more you refuse to let it win, the better chance you have at succeeding."
6. Anything else to know about the future of OCD and what you're doing?
"Treatment and recovery is going to look a lot different in the future. With technology and VR therapy possibilities there's a lot of exciting things to come. It's important to note that we have many improvements and additions coming to all of this. We are growing as a team and will continue to make the whole nOCD platform as efficient and helpful as possible. We understand what the struggle of living with OCD feels like, and we are excited to keep working at this to help the almost 200 million people around the world that are struggling with OCD each and everyday day/night."