17 May 2019
16-year-old develops an app to help people cope with OCD
Whether it is Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory or Danny Tanner of Full House, both the characters are made fun of for exhibiting Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
We laugh but fail to understand that it is a serious mental disorder.
Interestingly, a teenager from Bengaluru, Kaajal Gupta, has come out with an app to help people cope up with OCD.
Obsessive behavior can change one's daily life activities significantly
According to the American Psychiatric Association, "OCD is an anxiety disorder, and people suffering from OCD have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions)."
As May is observed as Mental Health Awareness month, let's take a step to understand what OCD is, from this teen's perspective.
Kaajal was diagnosed with OCD, was asked to maintain diary
When 16-year-old Kaajal was diagnosed with OCD, she was asked to maintain a diary to write down all the compulsive thoughts she has throughout the day.
But, she feared that someone would read it, as it wasn't possible to carry it everywhere.
Meanwhile, she realized that her phone, which she carried with herself, would be a better and convenient place to track everything.
She launched app 'Liberate: My OCD fighter' in November 2018
So, Kaajal, who is a coding enthusiast, decided to launch a mobile logging app for the same.
She said, "With all the inputs being recorded timely, it would give one the ease of detecting trends, patterns and triggers through gentle reminders from the self-help app."
In November 2018, the teenager launched Liberate: My OCD Fighter app.
App enables users to set goals and control their compulsions
With the help of the app, one can reduce the time spent on compulsions and control them by changing their frequency, postponing them or shortening them.
Further, one can create a Fear Ladder for each of the compulsions, which lets one complete exposure exercises to normalize the triggers.
Moreover, one can also set short-term, medium-term or long-term goals for themselves.
Interaction with support members, app sends weekly reports to therapists
Not only this, the app also prepares weekly reports from the data collected via the exercises, which include compulsive emotions' effects, number of OCD attacks and several other triggers, and sends out that report to one's therapist.
OCD-affected people usually find themselves alone in their struggles.
This app takes care of that as well, where one can interact with designated support members.
Available in India and USA, user review suggests great experience
Meanwhile, the app, with a rating of 4.9 on the Google Play Store, has been downloaded by over 1,000 users in India and USA.
As per the review, the app not only has a user-friendly interface but has also helped the users track their compulsions, develop plans and stick to their commitments.
Many users even recommended it for others with OCD.
App will soon be available for the iOS devices
Dr. Paulomi M. Sudhir, who is a professor at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), assisted Kaajal with her inputs when she started developing the app in 2018.
A group of illustrators helped her along with a web designer to develop the front-end of the mobile app.
Now, the app is being developed for the iOS platform.
Kaajal planning to test clinical applications of the app
Meanwhile, Kaajal is planning to test the app's clinical applications and a research proposal has been submitted by her at NIMHANS for clinical trials. Dr. Paulomi also believes that an app like this can help fight the stigma surrounding mental health issues like OCD.