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OCD

What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder of the brain and behavior that causes severe anxiety in children. OCD involves both obsessions and compulsions that typically affect the ease of daily functions. These obsessions/compulsions are unwanted and lead to a stressful cycle of these thoughts, anxiety, and rituals for children.  

OCD can affect children at different ages differently.  Younger children can have rituals and routines around meals, bathing, and bedtime while older children start to collect objects and have hobbies. These rituals help children to socialize and learn to deal with anxiety. 

Signs and Symptoms

It is common for children to have routines but when these routines affect your child with intense mood changes or intense fears/worries this could be a sign of OCD. Here are some more common signs of OCD to look for:

  • An extreme obsession with dirt or germs
  • Repeated doubts, such as whether or not the door is locked
  • Interfering thoughts about violence, hurting or killing someone, or harming oneself
  • Preoccupation with order, symmetry, or exactness
  • Too much worrying about something bad occurring
  • Repeated handwashing (often 100 or more times a day)
  • Following firm rules of order, such as putting on clothes in the very same order each day
  • Hoarding objects
  • Repeating sounds, words, numbers, or music to oneself
  • Asking the same questions again and again

If your child experiences any of these symptoms more than one hour a day it may be time to speak to your child's physician. 

Diagnosis and Treatment 

To be diagnosed with OCD, your child must have obsessions and compulsions that are continuous, severe, and disruptive to daily activities. There is no cure for OCD but different treatments and medications can help control your child's symptoms. Treatments can differ based on the age of your child and the severity of their condition. Treatment may include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Medication

If you think your child might have OCD or you think there could be a problem with the way your child has disruptive obsessions or compulsions, contact your child’s doctor, and share your concerns.