New app helps treat OCD symptoms

A new app, Live OCD Free, that aims to help treat the debilitating symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The new app, created by physician Kristen Mulcahy at the Cognitive Behavioral Institute of Falmouth, Mass., takes traditional exposure and response prevention therapy and translates it into a smartphone-friendly format for patients to use on the go, according to

The app allows users to set up an "exposure hierarchy" in which they expose themselves to the source of their anxiety in a controlled setting. It then asks them to practice the exposures, reminds them not to give in to their compulsions and monitors their self-reported anxiety levels. Users can trend their anxiety levels, and once they decline, take on more challenging exposures, according to

The app also creates progress reports that patients can email to their therapists, MassHighTech notes.

With a $79.99 pricetag the app isn't cheap, but it costs less than a psychiatrists' visit and may be helpful for patients without insurance or other resources for formal treatment, Mulcahy says.

Mulcahy is set to test the app with McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., although she's still waiting for final approval from the hospital's board. From there, she hopes to partner with larger facilities to test the program in an outpatient setting, and may expand the concept to apps for other mental health conditions.

Mulcahy isn't the first to tackle anxiety disorders. We told you a few months ago about a Harvard-created app that uses "cognitive bias modification" to help users prevent negative thought cycles, and prevent anxiety spirals.

Unlike Mulcahey's app, which measures symptoms and attempts to have users push through them, the Harvard app tries to re-train the mind to not make the negative associations and to short-circuit anxiety in the first place.

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