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OCD in Children - What to Watch For

Anger is an all-consuming emotion at times, even more so now as we deal with new situations. If you don't get a grip on it, it can affect your quality of life. Anger will damage your relationships and raise your stress levels. If anger is beginning to impact your life, start taking steps to control your emotional state.

Most children worry a bit or experience doubts. When does occasional anxiety cross over into something more serious?  When do those thoughts begin to interfere with normal childhood happiness?  Almost a million kids in the United States suffer with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Children with OCD can't seem to stop worrying.  Oftentimes, they can realize what they are feeling is not normal. Yet, they have no control over the obsessive thoughts.  They want to feel better. The only way to make those thoughts go away is to engage in compulsive repetitive behavior. The remedy is temporary and the struggle is constant.

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and how do I know what to look for?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety behavior disorder.  People with OCD tend to become fixated on a particular thought or idea.  The point of fixation is the obsession.  Some kids have a terrible fear of losing their parents.  They might get up several times during the night to make sure their parents are still breathing.  Others might have a need for total organization or complete symmetry.  Any little thing out of place might create such a feeling of anxiety. He or she feels the need to fix the offending object in to feel at ease. 

The bottom line with OCD is that upsetting thoughts manifest in a person's mind. The only way to reduce the anxiety is to engage in the compulsive behaviors or rituals that he or she has adopted.  The underlying thought is that something bad will happen if they don't get rid of that feeling. The difference between OCD and normal anxiety is that OCD interferes with daily life.  The degree of worry and time spent on these rituals is such that it is a constant fixture in the person's life.  It is a cycle which repeats time and time again and occupies a large part of the person's time and energy.

Common examples of obsessions in children include:

  • Preoccupation with symmetry or order
  • Debilitating fear of germs or dirt
  • Aggressive or sexual thoughts
  • Need to touch things over and over or a particular number of times.
  • Need to count everything (a child counts either aloud or mentally)
  • Need to repeatedly check on certain things. For example, a child may need to reassure themselves by checking door locks. Or they may need to keep checking to make sure they finished their homework when he or she knows it is complete)

OCD can be difficult to recognize. Children often become skilled at hiding their behaviors.  They may realize that something is not right. They may try to suppress their urges to act compulsively. Yet, the harder they try to fight the obsession, the more anxiety it creates.  Kids with OCD often develop low self-esteem and become embarrassed by their actions.

What are treatment options for OCD in my child?

If you suspect your child may have OCD, talk to your child's doctor.  Treatment for OCD is usually a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication. 

Parents must take an active role in their child's treatment. They need to learn as much as possible about the disorder. Then they should work with a professional to find coping strategies for the child. 

Above all, kids need to understand that OCD is not shameful and can be overcome.

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Our trained counselors are ready to work with you and your child to identify and address the signs of OCD behavior.

We encourage you to schedule an appointment onlinecontact us or call our office at 480-235-1682. Let us help you and your child as you work toward a healthier and happier life.

We offer a free 15-minute phone consultation.

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