Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Also known as: OCD.
What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a common chronic mental health disorder in children, most being diagnosed in adolescence or young adulthood, characterized by the almost uncontrollable urge to repeat the same behaviors (compulsions) or have the same thoughts (obsessions) or emotions over and over again such that they interfere with day-to-day functioning.
What causes obsessive-compulsive disorder?
While the cause of OCD is unknown, risk factors include genetic predisposition (first-degree relatives of a patient with OCD are at higher risk), brain structural changes, environmental factors (like physical or sexual abuse or other traumatic events) and a possible role for streptococcal infection (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder with Streptococcal Infection -PANDAS).
What are the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Children with OCD may have symptoms of obsessions, compulsions or both.
Common obsessions include: a fear of germs, having things in perfect order, unwanted thoughts about religion or sex and aggressive thoughts towards others.
Compulsive behaviors include: excessive cleaning and handwashing, repeatedly checking things, repetitive counting and other symptoms. These compulsions go beyond the range of what is normal and consume a good portion of a child’s time.
What are the care options for OCD?
OCD is typically treated with medications, and/or psychotherapy (including cognitive behavioral therapy). Other newer forms of treatment may be effective e.g. brain stimulation techniques. Children with OCD may have other mental disorders like anxiety or depression and these need to be addressed when therapy is considered.
Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP
This page was last updated on: November 19, 2019 10:40 AM
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Learn more about
Mood and Anxiety Disorders
Mood and anxiety disorders cover a wide range of conditions that fall under the umbrella of mental health disorders.
An adjustment disorder is an unhealthy, excessive behavioral or emotional reaction to a difficult life event, which may be occur suddenly or ongoing for some time.
Behavioral modification is a treatment method that attempts to change negative behaviors through the use of positive or negative reinforcement.
A psychiatric evaluation is an evaluation process with a mental health professional, designed to diagnose and treat (using both medications and other therapies), emotional, behavioral or developmental conditions or disorders.