Recognizing OCD: February 11, 2017

Health experts say obsessive compulsive disorder can actually start as young as six years old. It can be obsessive thoughts and repetitive behaviors.

Dr. Denise Dutchak, a child psychiatrist with Lee Health, says the obsessions can interfere with a child’s concentration. “OCD is a disorder that’s comprised of obsessions and compulsions. It’s probably about two percent of the population in children. That may even be an underestimate because people don’t always like to talk about it. When it starts interfering with their ability to engage in their usual activities, school, going out to play, family activities, then it’s probably time to bring them in.”

OCD can be a hereditary disorder that can often link to other problems like ADHD, Tourette’s, and even depression. “Some of the compulsive behaviors might be the need for symmetry, having things lined up just so, or in an even fashion. They might engage in certain ritualistic behaviors that they have to do in a certain order a certain number of times before they can move on to the next activity,” said Dr. Dutchak.

The disorder can be life long, but with treatment some children can outgrow it. “It can be treated quite well. We have psychotherapies that will be helpful; sometimes a cognitive psychotherapy will help,” said Dr. Dutchak.

Doctors may also recommend medication. If a child starts a treatment it’s important the treatment is consistent at home and at school.