Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Children and Adolescents

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by recurrent obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted and intrusive thoughts or images. Compulsions are thoughts and/or behaviors that are completed in order to reduce the distress associated with obsessions. Most teens (90%) that have OCD have both obsessions and compulsions.

Symptoms

Major symptoms of OCD involve repeated obsessions and compulsions that cause distress

Common obsessions include

  • Worry that one is dirty or contaminated
  • Feeling unsure that a task was completed appropriately
  • Fear that a loved one will get hurt

Common compulsions include

  • Excessive or repeated washing (hands, clothing, etc.)
  • Excessive or repeated checking to make sure that a task was or was not completed (making sure homework is in the backpack, checking that a light is on or off, etc.)
  • Seeking excessive or repeated reassurance from others that one’s fears will not come true (i.e. that a loved one will be safe, that their homework was completed, etc.)

While many kids feel they must complete their compulsions, some are able to resist the urge to engage in a compulsion (although may experience distress when doing so)