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A 'brain training' app developed by Cambridge University scientists could help people who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder manage the debilitating condition.
Symptoms of the anxiety disorder include things such as excessive hand-washing and fears about contamination.
Week - Training - Improvements - Cambridge - Research
But just one week of training can lead to significant improvements, according to the Cambridge research team.
One of the most common types of OCD, affecting up to 46 per cent of sufferers, is characterised by severe contamination fears and excessive washing behaviour.
Washing - Researchers - OCD - Patients - Spirits
Excessive washing can be harmful, the researchers said, as sometimes OCD patients use spirits, surface cleansers or even bleach to clean their hands.
The they said this behaviour can have a serious impact on people's lives, their mental health, their relationships and their ability to hold down jobs.
Repetitive - Behaviour - Rigidity - Words - Inability
The repetitive and compulsive behaviour is also associated with 'cognitive rigidity' - in other words, an inability to adapt to new situations or new rules.
Breaking out of compulsive habits, such as handwashing, requires cognitive flexibility so that the OCD patient can switch to new activities instead.
OCD - Combination - Medication - Prozac - Form
OCD is treated using a combination of medication such as Prozac and a form of cognitive behavioural therapy - or 'talking therapy' - termed 'exposure and response prevention'.
That therapy often involves instructing OCD patients to touch contaminated surfaces, such as a toilet, but to refrain from then washing their hands.
Cent - Patients - Response - Treatment
But they are not particularly effective as up to 40 per cent of patients fail to show a good response to either treatment.
The researchers said that may be in part because often people with OCD have suffered for years prior to receiving a diagnosis and treatment.
Difficulty - Patients - Exposure - Response - Prevention
Another difficulty is that patients may fail to attend exposure and response prevention therapy as they find it too stressful to undertake.
The Cambridge researchers developed a new treatment to help people with contamination fears and excessive washing.
The intervention, which...
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