About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in Children

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that can affect children and teenagers. Obsessions are unwanted thoughts, worries, or impulses experienced by children with OCD. Obsessions are distressing and difficult to manage. To cope with the anxiety caused by their obsessions, children with OCD develop compulsions, which are repetitive actions.


Although we often think of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disease that primarily affects adults, it affects between 0.25 and 4% of children.
Following an infection, such as a staph infection, some children develop OCD symptoms along with other distressing symptoms. This is a condition known as PANDAS or PANS.
The good news is that OCD has been extensively researched, and treatment options are available. The earlier this condition is diagnosed, the faster it can be treated, just like other mental health disorders.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in Children

Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in Children

Obsessive or compulsive behaviors include the following:
Unwanted thoughts, impulses, or images that recur frequently and cause anxiety or distress.
Having to repeatedly think about or say something (for example, counting, or repeating words over and over silently or out loud)
Having to repeat a task over and over (for example, handwashing, placing things in a specific order, or checking the same things over and over, like whether a door is locked)Having to do something over and over according to certain rules that must be followed exactly in order to make an obsession go away.
These behaviors are carried out by children in the belief that they will prevent bad things from happening or will make them feel better. However, the behavior is usually not linked to a real risk of something bad happening, or it is extreme, such as washing hands multiple times per hour.

Causes of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in Children

OCD is a genetic condition. This simply means that if someone in your family has it, there’s a greater chance that a child will as well. For kids with OCD who may have underlying vulnerabilities, stressful events can be a risk factor. Trauma-affected children may develop PTSD, which can be mistaken for OCD.

Complications of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in Children

One or a combination of the following issues and complications can arise as a result of OCD:
• Family members may find it difficult to deal with an OCD child.
• Stress and anxiety
• Suicidal thoughts or behavior.
• Disturbed and dissatisfied child
• Spending too much time doing things that aren’t practical.
• Difficulty attending school or participating in social activities.
• If left untreated, OCD can lead to other serious mental illnesses like anxiety and panic attacks, as well as depression.

Prevention of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in Children

The exact cause of OCD in some children is unknown. A biological and neurological component is likely, and some children with OCD also have Tourette syndrome or other tic disorders. According to some studies, health problems during pregnancy and birth may increase the risk of OCD, which is one of many important reasons to support women’s health during pregnancy.

Diagnosis of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in Children

Obsessions, compulsions or both are required for a child to be diagnosed with OCD. They must obstruct the child’s normal activities.
The Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale, or Y-BOCS, is a rating scale that can be used to assess the severity of symptoms.
Obsessions and/or compulsions that are time-consuming and cause significant suffering, as well as impairment in work or social functioning, are required for an OCD diagnosis. OCD is diagnosed using a variety of brain imaging tests, such as MRI.

Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in Children

CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) is an effective treatment method for children who suffer from OCD. This therapy, as well as others like it, assists the affected children in connecting their actions and thoughts. Exposure and response prevention therapy is one of the most important aspects of CBT. This type of therapy aims to gradually expose children to a feared object or obsession.
Treatment may include a combination of CBT and medications if the problem is severe enough. SSRIs are commonly used to help children with anxiety, but they must be used with caution in children and adolescents because they may increase the risk of suicide in this age group.