#FINDINGHOPE Licensed psychologists talk about the impact COVID-19 has on OCD treatments

NAMPA, Idaho — Just over two million adults in the U.S, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America are said to be living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

According to some studies, it’s believed that the average amount of time someone starts suffering from obsessive or compulsive thoughts to seeking treatment is fifteen years.

Many are aware that OCD is complex. Over a dozen subtypes fall under the disorder. In this week’s Finding Hope, we’re taking a look at how the pandemic is affecting those living with OCD’sOCD’s contamination subtype.

According to licensed psychologists, Dr. Kelsie Hendrickson (St. Lukes Behavioral Health Services) and Dr. Matt Damon (Anxiety Solutions of Boise), the most popular and effective treatment used to treat patients suffering from this subtype of OCD is called Exposure and Response Prevention or ERP. Dr. Damon describes ERP as “helping people face their fears and doing so without engaging in any type of unhealthy compulsion.”

The National Institute of Mental Health describes compulsions as “repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels the urge to do in response to an obsessive thought.”

Compulsions include but are not limited to:

  • Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing
  • Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way
  • Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing
  • Compulsive counting

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, those living with OCD’s contamination subtype are at a higher risk of developing more obsessions and compulsions. Exposure and Response Prevention, the most common treatment method, currently goes against the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines. Dr. Damon says it has “kind of flipped the whole ideal treatment right on its head.”

However, Dr. Hendrickson says people diagnosed with OCD, or an anxiety disorder who have undergone, or are undergoing treatment, “are actually more resilient than the average person during this pandemic because they’ve gotten effective treatment and they have more skills to handle the uncertainty and worry.”

Dr. Damon says that while these times may feel uncertain and may increase your anxiety, it’s okay not to feel okay. He also tells Idaho News 6, “I don’t think this is going to create a huge influx of diagnosable mental conditions that weren’t there before. But it likely will exacerbate underlying stress and tensions and things like that, so it’s okay to get help for that. Give yourself a little bit of a pass to be stressed out during this time.”

Dr. Matt Damon serves clients in Boise, Meridian and the entire Boise Metro area. He specializes in anxiety and anxiety disorders in both children and adults. For more visit Anxiety Solutions of Boise for more.

Dr. Kelsie Hendrickson conducts comprehensive psychological assessment as well as evidence-based therapy for children and adolescents. She specializes pediatric adjustment to acute and chronic illnesses, medical nonadherence, obsessive compulsive and OCD-spectrum disorders (e.g., trichotillomania), and disruptive behaviors in young children. She also sees children for other problems including pain management, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and disordered eating. Learn more at St. Luke’s online.