LETTER: More action needed on youth with OCD

Therapy, not drugs, should be focus for treating youth with OCD.

Editor,

Re: Eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, in the March 11, 2015 issue of the Times Review.

With regard to youth OCD, it is very sad that local psychiatrists and clinicians avoid using or recommending very well known and effective therapies such as Exposure Response Prevention Therapy (a specific form of cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT) and resort only to drugs, which alone absolutely will not help a severe OCD patient long term.

It is even sadder still that these same local psychiatrists and clinicians refuse to refer patients to other health-care professionals who may be better equipped and motivated, and who can work effectively and actively with ERP and CBT. God forbid that the local psychiatrists and clinicians might be found wanting, when the best interests of the patient are actually not being served. The patient is then left suffering along with his or her family and friends, trapped in a prison cell which could be unlocked, but for the motivation and interest to do so from our health care system.

It needs to be noted that young people suffering with OCD very often do not have the communication skills or the ability to tell us what they need, how they feel, or what is going on inside. It is up to us and our health-care professionals to ask the questions and continually actively dig deeper. Too often we fail these young people by assuming that if they don’t or can’t talk this must mean they are not motivated to get well. Nothing could be further from the truth! Walk a day in these young people’s shoes and you will see the truth.

Do we wait to actively do something only when a patient becomes so desperate that they take their own life… believing it is their only course of action to escape their private hell and suffering?

I applaud Dr. David Smith for writing this article but much more needs to be done to address the huge therapy gaps which exist in this region, and the unwillingness of our health-care professionals to truly listen and work actively. Particularly when patients, family and friends are begging for assistance and they themselves know exactly what needs to be done. Many doors are closed in their faces.

As a person who has lived with and worked with OCD through out the majority of my adult life I am intimately aware of and knowledgeable with what works and what does not. Sitting in our chairs writing copious notes and hoping for the best does not.

Martin Ralph

Revelstoke, BC