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July 2014

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Better understand OCD at Rogers talk

National OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) Awareness Week is striving to bring attention to a serious condition and hope to those who struggle with it.

From Oct. 8-14, professionals are shedding light on a sometimes debilitating disorder that is often misinterpreted, causing people to suffer longer than necessary before finding appropriate treatment. By raising the profile of the disorder, professionals hope to chip away at the stigma of mental illness.

Locally, Rogers Memorial Hospital, which has an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Center, offers one of just a few places nationwide that treats adults with OCD, obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders and other serious anxiety disorders.

"OCD is the fourth most-common psychiatric condition," explained Dr. Brad Riemann, clinical director of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Center and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Services at Rogers.

"It is widely misunderstood, so increasing awareness is crucial to help reduce the stigma so people get the help they need," he added.

OCD symptoms are classified into two areas: obsessions - repetitive unwanted thoughts - and compulsions, the routines individuals perform to help them cope with their unwanted thoughts or reduce anxiety, he explained.

Explaining the disorder

According to Riemann, obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images or impulses that generate high levels of anxiety. Common examples of obsessions include contamination fears, repeated doubt, the need for exactness or order, aggressive or inappropriate/unacceptable thoughts.

Compulsions are repetitive acts done in an attempt to neutralize the obsessive thought, or the anxiety it causes, or to somehow prevent the feared event from occurring. Common compulsions include washing and cleaning, checking, counting or ordering, repeating, praying, hoarding or seeking reassurance.

Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder can begin at any age from preschool to adulthood. The average age of onset for this condition is roughly 20 although it can occur in individuals much younger.

According to information from the hospital, research supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has found that one-half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and three-quarters begin by age 24.

At Rogers, Riemann leads a team of more than 40 highly trained staff who provide specialized treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders.

"Rogers Memorial Hospital is the world's largest treatment provider for OCD. On any given day, more than 60 people - children, teens and adults - are at Rogers learning the skills they need to get control over their symptoms and strategies to help prevent relapse. These are skills and strategies that they can use the rest of their lives whenever they are dealing with new situations," Riemann said.

At Rogers, a comprehensive cognitive-behavioral based approach is used to deal with the issue. The staff works one-on-one with patients to identify specific thoughts and situations that create anxiety to develop a thorough exposure hierarchy.

Family members are an important part of the hospital's OCD treatment approach.

Free community talk

As part of 2012 OCD Awareness Week, Rogers Memorial Hospital is sponsoring a free community talk on OCD from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, at the Richard T. Anderson Education Center at Waukesha County Technical College, 800 Main St., Pewaukee. The featured speaker will be Dr. David M. Jacobi, clinical supervisor and behavior specialist at the Child and Adolescent Centers. Other talks will be held in other parts of the state.

He will discuss OCD and how early diagnosis and treatment are key to successful recovery. No preregistration is required to attend. For speaker biographies and directions to the talks, visit rogershospital.org/OCD-talks

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