OCD: In Children And Adolescents
Obsessive-compulsive disorder in children and teens has become more common in recent years. However, since young people find their symptoms nonsensical, they may be secretive about their symptoms. The symptoms may come to light when they become severe.
The symptoms of OCD in children and adolescents involve repetitive thoughts or images called obsessions. Compulsions represent the ritual behaviours that they repeat again and again to banish the thoughts.
Children and adolescents can harbour obsessive thoughts which may cause difficulty in studying, reading, finishing assignments, making friends, playing a sport.
Some examples are
Excessive preoccupation with germs, dirt, illness
Expresses repeated doubts, such as whether the stove is turned off
Intrusive thoughts about a parent getting hurt
Excessive preoccupation with symmetry, order, and exactness
Excessive drive to know or remember facts that seem very trivial
Unreasonable attention to detail
Excessive worry about something bad happening like a car accident or home intruder breaking in
Aggressive thoughts and urges (may be more likely in teens)
Examples of compulsive behaviors in OCD kids may include:
Washing hands excessively,
Repeated checking and rechecking to ensure stove is turned off or door is locked
Rigidly follows self-imposed rules of order like arranging personal items in room in a particular way or wearing shoes/clothes in particular fashion and becoming very upset if someone disrupts the arrangement
Excessive counting and recounting
Preoccupation with sequencing or grouping objects
Repeatedly and excessively asking the same questions
Repeating words spoken by self or others
Repeating sounds, words, numbers, or music to him- or herself
OCD IN CHILDREN – CAUSES
Studies point to the involvement of a combination of biological and environmental factors.
Biological factors – research shows a link between insufficient levels of the neurotransmitter, serotonin, in the development of OCD in children. Environmental factors – Certain environmental situations and stressors can trigger OCD in children already at risk for the disorder. Environmental situations that can cause symptoms to appear or worsen include:
Significant stressor in form of change in living environment, parental separation, school related event, death of a loved one and illness (such as streptococcus infections)
There’s no laboratory test for OCD in children, however, there are psychological tools our doctors base their diagnoses on the comprehensive psychiatric evaluation, after ruling out otherphysical causes for OCD symptoms.
How can GCWC help in treatment for OCD in Children?
Individualized treatment for OCD in children is done:
Physical exam – age, health, maturity level, medical status
Severity of symptoms
The presence or absence of concurrent disorders: Depression, Tourette’s disorder, Anxiety disorder
Tolerance level for certain medications
Tolerance for certain therapy strategies
Expectations for future course of the disorder
OCD in children can be effectively treated, especially if caught early on. Doctors typically use a combination of therapy and medication.OCD therapy strategy usually involves a cognitive behavioural therapy approach. Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) represent the most effective class of medications fortreatment of OCD in children and in adults.
At GCWC we believe that parents play a critical role in their child’s treatment and recovery and hence Family therapy is a part of treatment of OCD. A considerable number of children with OCD also have a co-morbid disorder, like poor self esteem, leading to depression, which is also requires treatment. Our team makes a comprehensive management plan to treat the disorder as well as help the child and the family.