Obsessive compulsive disorder in children (OCD)

Obsessive compulsive disorder in children (OCD)

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What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

It is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by the presence of obsessions or compulsions that the child feels unable to control rationally and which interferes with daily activities.

Repeated obsessions occur, unwanted thoughts; and compulsions are recurrent and the desire to do certain things is repeated repeatedly to block the thoughts that frighten them. These behaviors are meant to diminish the anxiety caused by obsessive thoughts. Unlike adults, children do not have the necessary cognitive skills or life experience to recognize that obsessions or compulsions are excessive or unreasonable.

What is the cause of OCD?

The disorder is considered to have a neurological cause at its origin. Several researchers have found that obsessive compulsive disorder is associated with serotonin deficiency in the brain. The condition also starts on hereditary line, it appears in children whose family members have this disorder.

What are the symptoms of this disorder and what are the most common types of behavior?

Symptoms may appear and disappear repeatedly. They do not have a specific frequency. Often there is no logical relationship between obsession or compulsion and fears designed to offset them:


  • constant and unwarranted fear of germs, germs, etc. ;

  • sudden low school performance;

  • hypochondria - exaggerated fear of diseases;

  • unclean and disgusting images and thoughts sometimes; with sexual connotation;

  • religious obsessions;

  • excessive concern for order, cleaning, organization, etc .;

  • fearing that someone in the family might miss something;

  • exaggerated fear of losing things or throwing them by mistake.


  • excessive washing appears on hands, appearance of cracked hands; excessive use of soap, towel and detergents;

  • making and remaking obsessively the same theme for home in an attempt to be perfect; the impossibility to complete certain works - their constant rewriting with the impression that it is never good enough;

  • excessive repetition of common rituals (putting and restoring clothes in the siphon several times, toys, etc.);

  • constant checking of cabinets and doors (fear that the door never closes well enough, that the door in the closet is not closed properly, etc.).

The child with OCD is often shameful, exhibits exaggerated respect, is perfectionist and can sometimes manifest fits of anger as a form of concealment of his powerlessness.

What are the children at risk for obsessive compulsive disorder?

This condition affects about 3% of the population, about one million of them being children and adolescents. These are affected according to 3 criteria:

  • Age - 2% of children diagnosed are between 7 and 12 years old; the condition has often been reported in children of pre-school age;

  • Sex - appears more frequently in boys than in girls;

  • Heredity - 20% of the children who have this disorder have at least one member in the family who suffers from the same disorder.

How is the diagnosis made?

In general, the diagnosis of OCD is based on the manifest symptomatology. However, they must meet certain conditions in order to be included in this diagnosis:

  • obsessions and compulsions must be severe and frequent (enough to consume at least 1 hour a day);

  • it must interfere with the quality of life and the child's routine;

  • his manifestations disturb those around him.

How is obsessive compulsive disorder treated in children?

The most successful therapeutic form for children with OCD is the combination of medication and psychotherapy. Medication helps to keep some symptoms under control, and psychotherapy has the role of helping children learn to change their thoughts and feelings.

Recovery is a long and cumbersome process, which the whole family must attend. The more family members understand about this condition, its manifestation and the fact that their little one has no fault for the way they behave, the more they will be able to support and help them to control the condition more easily.

Tags Emotions for children Mental disorders