Jan 27

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Children and Teens


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Children and Teens


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Children and Teens

Obsessive compulsive disorder is not just a problem that affects adults. In fact, many adults who suffer from OCD had shown signs and symptoms at an earlier age. Here are some facts about the condition.

Because children and teens go through so many developmental stages, some behaviors can be misinterpreted as something else. Anger and anxiety may be attributed to peer pressure, for instance, when it could be a sign of a more serious condition. With teens, at least they can articulate what they are feeling to give a better idea of what is going on with them.

What Is Obsessive Compulsive Behavior?

There are two sides to the obsessive compulsive condition. On one side, you have obsessions. They are described as thoughts and impulses that come out of nowhere. The person suffering from them doesn’t want to necessarily act on them, but feels that they are powerless to control them.

Obsessions can revolve around any type of thought. One is fear. Fear of doing something or succumbing to something can result in thoughts that occupy every waking thought. Here’s an example. A grade school child I knew was convinced that Bigfoot lived close by so he refused to play outside unless there was another person with him.  He was sure something awful would happen to him if he were alone outside.  He new his thinking wasn’t logical but he couldn’t make himself play outside alone.

Another type of obsessive thought may concern impulses. Wanting to hurt or harm someone or yourself is an impulse, especially when nothing has happened to warrant the action. This behavior can scare a teen and make them anxious whenever they are in a situation that triggers it.  My psychiatrist said one common impulse is to curse in church! lolol

Obsessive thoughts can also surround doubts. It is usually one specific doubt that plants itself in the mind. No matter what type of certainty is given, the doubt still persists in the mind.

Having obsessive thoughts can cause untold anxiety in your teen. Unknowingly, you may become a part of their obsession and thus walk into a minefield. Obsession can trigger shouting matches, unruly behavior on the part of your teen, poor grades and isolation.

On the other side of obsession is compulsion. These are ritualistic acts that are performed repetitively as a result of an obsession. Even if the teen knows that the obsession isn’t rational, the compulsive act is a way to satisfy the obsession and reduce their anxiety.

Here’s an example. Using the thought that someone may break in the house, the compulsive act could be constantly checking the locks several times a night whenever the obsession takes hold. This can disrupt sleep and lead to stress from sleeplessness.

Because this is a type of anxiety disorder, seeking a solution would involve professional help. Without therapeutic tools, a teen or young child can feel powerless to understand why they are acting in a strange manner. Through professional support, they learn coping mechanisms that will help them manage their thoughts and be less fearful of them.

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