Merrisa Bragg is the founder of Canada’s first privately funded and specialized OCD clinic out of Barrie, Ontario - OCD North.
Since March, her clinic has received a spike in the number of calls from people across the region seeking treatment due to COVID-related OCD symptoms.
“These last few months have definitely raised anxiety levels for people and triggered OCD symptoms, where before there may not have been any,” said Bragg. “People are trying to tackle these hurdles alone while many of them are still isolating and trying to adjust to a new routine.”
Research supports approximately 50 per cent of the population report anxiety, fear, or health concerns during epidemics and pandemics.
The number of Canadians meeting the criteria for OCD symptoms is expected to increase by at least 100,000-plus new cases as the pandemic continues. (* stats provided)
Merrisa has treated hundreds of individuals to date, currently, almost half of her local practice consists of children ages seven years to 16 years.
“Families who have children displaying OCD, but who don’t share their symptoms are not sure where to turn for answers,” she says, “They will need some tools to get them through the summer and to prepare for the reality of a disjointed school year next fall.”
In response to demand, OCD North has created four new support programs for parents & families, pregnant women, spouses and individuals.
Merrisa is the first Canadian to be trained in Exposure and Response (Ritual) Prevention (ERP), which she says has the highest treatment success rates.
Merrisa warns unlike other anxiety disorders, OCD is more complicated to treat.
“Local health care practitioners will have to be prepared that this pandemic will produce more complicated cases of OCD and other anxiety disorders,” she said. “Our goal is get people back on their feet and functioning sooner, without leading to relapse or risk overwhelming the health-care system down the road.”