Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Can Cripple Your Child!

Jun 03, 2019

Though 60-70% of the children show positive results after therapy, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a serious condition. Let's find out more about OCD in children symptoms, causes, and treatments.

What Is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD is a neurological disorder that adversely affects the actions and behaviour of a person. It causes extreme anxiety in the person suffering from it. People with this disorder experience obsessions that distress them. Often, an individual may feel the urge to repeat certain habits or things in an attempt to manage the obsessive thoughts. These habits or rituals are known as compulsions. For many, OCD kicks in early childhood or adolescent years, though it is not that much noticeable. It purely shows when an individual keeps on repeating the same routine even past the appropriate age.

OCD in Children Symptoms

Symptoms of OCD vary broadly from child-to-child. However, some common obsessive things experienced by children with OCD include:
  • excessive doubts about whether they have shut the window locked the door, turned off the lights, or turned off the stove, etc.
  • extreme fear of contagion from contact with certain people, or everyday items such as combs, shoes, clothing, or school books
  • sweating over with the appearance of homework assignments
  • unnecessarily agonizing about a symmetrical arrangement of daily objects such as school books, shoelaces, clothes, or food
  • doubts about by chance harming a sibling, parent or friend
  • irrational fears that something bad can happen if a schedule or routine is not followed or followed
Other than this, the common compulsions experienced by children with OCD include:
  • uncontrollable bathing, washing, or showering
  • specific, frequent bedtime habits that interfere with normal sleep
  • neurotically repeating certain words or prayers to make certain that bad things don't happen
  • compulsive assurance-seeking from people around about not having caused harm
  • escaping situations in which they think 'something bad' might happen
OCD in children symptoms may resemble other neurological disorders or medical conditions, including Tourette syndrome. Therefore, consult a child's doctor for a proper diagnosis.

What Causes OCD in Children?

The cause of OCD is still not definitive yet. However, there are certain factors that can be one of the reasons for causing OCD. These include:
  • genetics: Obsessive-compulsive disorder does have a genetic component. If any individual in the family has OCD, it may double a child's risk of developing the disorder. On the other hand, OCD in a close family member increases the kid's risk tenfold.
  • environmental: OCD possibly develops in a child who has experienced violence, trauma, or abuse at some point. Besides, some auto-immune disorders and infections can also cause an increased risk of OCD.

What Factors Trigger Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

OCD is not an outcome of parenting style, nor is it a sign of misconduct or lack of self-control. Even stress does not cause OCD, although a life-changing event can trigger its onset. These include:
  • death of a loved one
  • history of childhood trauma, such as sexual or physical abuse
  • parental conflicts
  • a family history of mental illness
  • reserved behaviour
  • negative emotions and thoughts
  • history of hiding emotions or internalizing

How Is OCD Different from Other Childhood Routines?

It is usual for young children to have routines. As a matter of fact, parents themselves encourage their children to stick to the routine. In fact, set schedule for mealtime, bedtime, playing or studying proves to be good practice for children. However, these common habits lessen or change pace as children get older. For kids with OCD, the habits continue past the appropriate age. In some cases, these routines become too frequent or extreme that they begin to interfere with the child’s daily life.

Treatments for OCD

Treatment of OCD is possible, especially with early diagnosis. Doctors generally suggest a combination of therapy and medication to treat this condition. The most prevalent treatments for OCD are:
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) - The CBT therapy mainly focuses on two techniques i.e., cognitive technique meaning how an individual thinks, and behavioural technique meaning how it affects what they do. This therapy helps children in facing triggers and managing to overcome them. It also allows children to experience distress and anxiety without resorting to compulsions.
  • Exposure and response prevention (ERP) - ERP therapy focuses on making the person with OCD face their fears and further refraining from ritualizing. This practice can be extremely anxiousness provoking at first, but eventually, it will make the situation better.
Other than therapy, medications are prescribed to children when they are experiencing moderate to severe distress. Given the possibility of medication side effects, doctors preferably begin treatment with therapy. The mental health professional or physician may also recommend family therapy as parents play an important role in their child's treatment and recovery.

Advice for Parents

  • Do not blame OCD upon the kid or on the parenting style.
  • Play it cool. Keep calm around the child because reacting in frustration may only lead to further distress.
  • Know there are other kids too who have OCD. Connect the child with them for support and encouragement.
  • Give them directions clearly, calmly, and in a positive way. Be supportive when they take a positive step towards recovery.
  • Redirect their energy into enjoyable activities. This way, they will be able to minimize their rituals.
  • Never compare a child's progress to anyone but themselves.
  • Identify what are their compulsions and obsessions rather than participating in them.
  • Do not be judgmental of the child's behaviour.
  • Do not make decisions for the child unless they are very young.
  • Never pressure them to discontinue their habits at once. Take small steps and make changes gradually.
Following an empathetic and strategized approach will help the child in dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Besides, it is important to realize that it's going to be tough, but eventually, they will get better.

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