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Does My Child Have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder and is characterised by repetitive and unwanted thoughts. These obsessions create actions made by the sufferer as they try to eradicate the anxious thoughts which are compulsions. OCD cases vary from mild to severe and manifest in different ways. With children suffering from OCD their obsessive thoughts can cause high levels of distress and anxiety often dominating their time and ability to focus and hold their attention on things. Research carried out estimates that 1.9% to 3% of children have OCD so out of 1000 children in a school 19 to 30 of them will probably have this disorder. OCD does not discriminate between ethnicities or social groups.

If you are concerned about your child there are symptoms to look out for although only a medical professional can make a qualified diagnosis of OCD. There are a plethora of ‘themes’ in OCD cases but common indicators that may encourage you to seek medical advice could be some or all of the following:

  • Wanting their toys and nick-nacks perfectly aligned and their bedrooms kept tidy in a particular way
  • Excessively worrying about their handwriting being neat enough
  • Prolonged and repetitive washing of hands
  • Repetitively having showers and baths
  • Excessive worrying about becoming ill or catching a disease
  • Worrying about something bad happening to loved ones
  • Taking extreme and repetitive measures to protect the home by constantly checking locks, taps and plugs
  • When they are carrying out certain tasks they feel they have to count and sometimes this in multiples of a particular number
  • Holding onto and refusing to throw away old items that are useless and not needed

If you do think that your young child is suffering from OCD the first thing you should do is get advice from your doctor. If your child is older or a teenager you may find that your child would like to talk to their doctor alone. It is important that you encourage them to do this.

Awareness of OCD is increasing but unfortunately not all doctors are sufficiently knowledgeable at the moment. You can get help online. In the UK there is something called a GP ‘Ice Breaker’ which patients can print off and take to their GP. It explains what OCD is and that your child may need to be diagnosed and offered CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).

Research has proven that OCD if identified and treated early has a much better chance of recovery so early intervention is essential.

Guest article by Eirian Hallinan who has written numerous articles in the parenting field. She believes in healing naturally, first, especially when it comes to infant reflux.

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Thursday 22nd of March 2012

I'm an adult with OCD but have it under control with medications. I'm pretty sure I had it as a kid and teen, but it got much worse later on. I also wish that we knew then what we know now and I might have been able to have broken the cycle at the onset.