Newswise — Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.

People with OCD may have symptoms of obsessions, compulsions, or both. These symptoms can interfere with all aspects of life, such as work, school, and personal relationships.

The International OCD Foundation estimates that about 1 in 100 adults – or between 2 to 3 million adults in the United States – currently have OCD. This is roughly the same number of people living in the city of Houston, Texas.   In addition, at least 1 in 200 – or 500,000 – kids and teens have OCD. This is about the same number of kids who have diabetes.

If you are planning a story for OCD Awareness Week (Oct. 8-14) or you are interested in crafting a story about its prevalence and what it is like to deal with the disorder, I’d be more than happy to help you schedule an interview with Penn Medicine psychology expert, Dr. Thea Gallagher and Philadelphia resident and OCD patient (and patient advocate) Kate Brett.

Thea Gallagher, Psy.D. is the clinic coordinator at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety (CTSA) in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. At the CTSA, Dr. Gallagher currently coordinates the OCD treatment study, and is a study therapist. Clinically, Dr. Gallagher specializes in Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) for PTSD, Exposure and Response (Ritual) Prevention (EX/RP) for OCD, and cognitive-behavioral treatments for mental health illnesses,  including but not limited to stress, anxiety, OCD, trauma, phobias, suicide, panic, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse, self-harm, addiction related to history of trauma or self-medicating in general, children and adults with anxiety, mental health stigma, physical health problems as connected to mental health problems, and the connection between physical and mental health in general. Dr. Gallagher focuses on a basic Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) conceptualization as most of what is known about mental health indicates that there is a strong connection between our thoughts and behaviors and emotions and environment. 

Kate Brett is a Philadelphia resident who suffered with OCD for many painful years before discovering the University of Pennsylvania's Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety in August of 2011. She entered a Treatment study with severe OCD and, 17 sessions later, ended the study with minimal symptoms. Since her treatment, she has dedicated herself to helping other sufferers in the hopes that she can remove some of the shame and isolation that often accompanies the disorder, and to educate people on the many manifestations of OCD.  She has spoken at numerous workshops and classes, and has media interview experience. In addition, she worked with psychologists to form a successful patient-facilitated, doctor-overseen support group which meets once monthly with about 15 to 30 individuals in various stages of treatment.

Dr. Gallagher & Kate are available for phone or on-camera interviews.