Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): what is it?

Photo portrait of distraught girl covering her ears with two hands

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common and chronic disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, recurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that they feel the urge to repeat over and over. It is a type of anxiety disorder and can be quite debilitating if not treated.

Obsessions are repeated, persistent and unwanted urges or images that cause distress or anxiety. These obsessions typically intrude when you’re trying to think of or do other things. Examples of obsessions include concerns about cleanliness, orderliness, fear of harm, fear of making mistakes, or fear of acting inappropriately.

Compulsions are behaviors that the person feels compelled to perform in response to an obsessive thought, or according to rigidly applied rules. The goal of these compulsions is to prevent or reduce anxiety or distress, or prevent some dreaded event or situation. However, these compulsions are not connected in a realistic way to the event they’re intended to prevent, or they are clearly excessive. Examples of compulsions include hand-washing, ordering or arranging things, checking on things, or compulsive counting.

 

What are the common signs of OCD?

A person with OCD typically:

  • Can’t control his or her thoughts or behaviors, even when those thoughts or behaviors are recognized as excessive.
  • Spends at least 1 hour a day on these thoughts or behaviors.
  • Doesn’t get pleasure when performing the behaviors or rituals, but may feel brief relief from the anxiety the thoughts cause.
  • Experiences significant problems in their daily life due to these thoughts or behaviors.
  • While the exact cause of OCD isn’t known, factors that may increase the risk of developing or triggering OCD include family history, stressful life events, hormonal changes, and other mental health disorders.

Treatment for OCD typically involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy, is considered effective for treating OCD. It involves exposure and response prevention (ERP), which involves gradually exposing a person to the source of obsession and having them resist the urge to perform the compulsion.

 

Do children suffer from OCD?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can affect people of all ages, including children. The exact prevalence can vary, but studies suggest that about 1-2% of children and adolescents in the United States have OCD. This means that in a medium to large size high school, there could be as many as 20 students struggling with the symptoms of OCD.

In many cases, OCD symptoms first appear in childhood or adolescence. The disorder is often characterized by considerable distress and impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning. However, children may not always be able to articulate their symptoms or may try to hide their symptoms due to embarrassment or fear of judgment, which can sometimes make diagnosis challenging.

Early recognition and treatment can be beneficial and can potentially prevent the disorder from worsening. Treatments for OCD in children typically involve cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which may be combined with medication depending on the severity of the symptoms. If you’re concerned that a child may have OCD, it’s important to seek help from a healthcare professional at Achieve therapy and Learning Services in Idaho Falls, ID.

Achieve Therapy and Learning Services located in Idaho Falls, Idaho, is a comprehensive therapeutic organization committed to serving children who are struggling with a variety of challenges, including Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Our dedicated team of trained professionals provides a warm, supportive environment for children and their families. We believe in a holistic approach to treatment, tailoring our services to meet the unique needs of each child and family we serve.

Our range of services for children with OCD includes:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Our therapists are trained in CBT, a proven-effective treatment for OCD. CBT focuses on the relationships among thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. For OCD, a specific type of CBT known as Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is often used. This involves exposing children to the thoughts, images, and situations that make them anxious and preventing the compulsive behaviors that usually follow.
  • Family Education and Support: We believe that family involvement is crucial in the treatment of children with OCD. We provide education to help families understand the disorder and learn how to best support their child. This includes teaching parents strategies to help manage OCD symptoms at home.
  • Group Therapy: We may offer group therapy sessions, where children can interact with others who are dealing with similar issues. This can help children feel less alone and learn from the experiences of others.

At Achieve Therapy and Learning Services we understand that OCD can be a challenging condition for children and their families. We’re committed to providing the highest quality of care to help children manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.

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