What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
A type of anxiety disorder, OCD can impact a sufferer’s life, and that of their family, in many ways. It can affect the person’s self-esteem, friendships and their enjoyment of life. OCD is one of the most common mental illnesses affecting children and adolescents, with onset usually around 10 to 12 years of age.
The two components of OCD as follows:
Obsessions are distressing, intrusive and irrational thoughts. These thoughts can include:
- that someone they love will get hurt
- that they might get sick
- that something bad is going to happen if certain things aren’t done
- preoccupation with things being in order
- preoccupation with germs, dirt, illness
- they’ve done the wrong thing
Compulsions are a way to try to control or neutralise these thoughts. This may be in the form of rituals or repetitive behaviours such as:
- hand washing
- counting or tapping
- doing things in a certain order
- hurting themselves through hair pulling, skin picking, etc.
- repeated asking the same questions (to excess)
- repeated checking of locks, lights, power points etc
- preoccupation with sequencing or organising objects
Causes of OCD
It is believed that a combination of biological and environmental factors can cause OCD. There may even be a genetic component.
For children with a predisposition to OCD, triggers can include:
- Physical or emotional abuse
- Drastic changes in living arrangements
- Death of a loved one
- Parental divorce
- School issues
- Other traumatic events
Diagnosis and Treatments
To be treated effectively, OCD should be diagnosed trained health professional after a psychiatric evaluation.
Child psychiatrist, Dr Kaylene Henderson tells ParentTV that the average time it takes for someone to get help for OCD is around 7 years. This is tragic, particularly for children, as treatment is available for OCD and can be very effective.
Treatments include therapies such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and medication.
Early intervention allows kids to learn the skills they need to gain control over their OCD symptoms while minimising the impact of other areas of their life.” Dr Kaylene Henderson
Parents and family members also play a critical role in the treatment and recovery of a child with OCD, providing ongoing support.
To hear Dr Kaylene Henderson talk more about OCD in children and other mental health issues, check out ParentTV here.