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For 15 years, local foundation offers help to those suffering from OCD
Story Updated: Mar 5, 2012
NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. (WKTV) - Excessive hand washing, constant flipping of a light switch, and returning time and time again to check the locks on your doors.
They are just some of the many symptoms that might be present if you are someone who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and one local agency is celebrating 15 year of helping those who suffer from OCD.
The Central New York Obsessive Compulsive Foundation coordinates local support groups, promotes OCD research, and helps those that suffer.
The Central New York affiliate developed as a result of community interest and response to the first OCD Support Group founded in 1996.
The neurobiological disorder affects millions, forcing them to have obsessions and compulsions of repeated behaviors.
"OCD is a secretive disorder," said founder Susan Connell. "It's really the fourth most prevalent mental illness in this country, affects seven million people in the United States. So, really awareness is the key, identifying what the signs and symptoms."
"Sadly, for most people, from the onset of the disorder it takes about 17 years to seek treatment, which is pretty sad," Connell said. "But there are great medications and behavior therapy."
One of the many purposes of the foundation is to help those who suffer from OCD navigate through their lives in spite of their symptoms
"The disorder is kind of secretive," Connell said. "It's embarrassing to people who have it. They don't share the details, but with a support group, they can they can talk to other people who suffer many of the same obsessions or compulsions and learn ways to cope with it."
Psychologist Dr. Andrew Kinney says that most people have some kind of obsession-quality to their thinking - a type of innocuous ritual. It's something that may not be of big consequence to them, but for those who suffer from OCD, it makes life all the more difficult.
"For an OCD person, it's not just once or twice," said Dr. Kinney. "It's excessive. They might have to do things ten times. They might have a ritual that if it's interfered with, they have to start over. The denial of the ritual is extremely disturbing to a person. It can cost them careers. It can cost them, in term of their family functioning, so it is an extreme situation for them."
"Productivity is diminished when you have OCD," Connell said. "Nationally it cost our country billions of dollars in loss of productivity. It can even disable people to the point where they can't work, children cant attend school."
However, Connell and those specialists she works with say that with the right help and support, handling of the affliction can get a lot easier.
"Compared to somebody without OCD that might spend a few minutes a day, someone with OCD can spend hours a day, if not the entire day, worrying about things, obsessing about things driven to do these rituals or they'll have significant anxiety," said Dr. Kinney.
The foundation offers a free, weekly support group for anyone that thinks they may be suffering from the disorder. That group is held every Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Saint Elizabeth College of Nursing.