Does my Child have OCD?

OCD is a persuasive disorder and I know lots of people joke that they have OCD of they are very tidy or worry a lot. Many people worry and some people worry a lot that does not necessarily mean that you or your child have OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a serious anxiety related condition where individuals experience frequent obsessional and intrusive thoughts (or obsessions), often followed by uncontrollable urges and compulsions.

Here are some example of obsessions:

  • Worrying that they or others members of the family or friends feeling contaminated.
  • Worrying something bad will happen to family members
  • Feeling that you or others may become really ill.
  • Suffering from violent and sexual images
  • Needing everything to be neat and tidy.

Suffering from these thoughts can make your child feel unsafe, sad and unhappy. Your child may then feel that they need to do certain things to help them to feel safe and these are called “compulsions”, we often call them safety behaviours.

Examples of  OCD Compulsions:

  • Washing your hand’s lots of times or in a certain way
  • Counting or saying things in your head, often this can be a certain number, a child I worked with had to do everything in three’s
  • Asking the same question over and over again
  • Avoiding certain numbers when counting
  • Tidying your room lots of times, even though it already looks nice and tidy
  • Checking lights switch lots of times
  • Checking the door is locked

Often the compulsion can seem very illogical and the sufferer knows this, so it’s important to recognize this. Suffering from OCD does not mean that your child is being naughty or that they cannot receive help.

How can OCD make you and your child feel

Children feel very out of control and it’s often the boss of their lives. For parents, this can be hard too as the parent can become involved in the OCD. Remember your child will only be diagnosed with OCD of they suffer from each symptom, thoughts as well as compulsions.

Is it common?

The Royal college of psychiatry report that OCD can affect people of all ages irrespective of their class, religion or gender. It usually starts in childhood. It is thought that 1–2% of the population has OCD. This means that at least 130 000 young people suffer from OCD.

What causes OCD?

We do not know the cause of OCD for certain. Research suggests it may be due to an imbalance in a brain chemical called ‘serotonin’. It may also run in families and in people with tics (jerky movements) in the family. Very occasionally, OCD can start after an illness. It can also occur after a difficult time in their life like having an accident.

When do I need to worry, red flag!

Many children have mild obsessions from time to time that does not interfere with their everyday life or level of distress, seek help if you respond to yes to the following questions.

  • Do the compulsions upset and distress your child?
  • Do they interfere with the child’s everyday life (e.g. school, friends, etc.)?

If this is the case then seek help via your GP or you can the ask the school if they have a school nurse.  Contact me for a consultation.

Here is a list of great resources at the Royal College of Psychiatry and OCD Action too