Many people imagine obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as excessive cleaning and organizing. The term “OCD” is often applied casually to any individual who likes to keep their homes and lives neat and tidy. However, the reality of this mental health disorder can look very different. Understanding OCD symptoms in teens can educate you about the root causes of this condition and ensure you can get your child the help they need.
Learn more about OCD in general and treating OCD in adolescents from the experts at Ascend today.
What Is OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. While it often outwardly presents as ritualistic behaviors that might have to do with cleaning, counting, or avoiding touching certain objects, these behaviors stem from unwanted intrusive thoughts. These thoughts might range from self-harm and violence to specific fears and phobias.
About 2.3% of the population struggles with OCD — most commonly women. For most individuals with OCD, symptoms begin presenting before age 25.
Common OCD Symptoms in Teens
Learning about the symptoms of OCD in teens can help you figure out when it’s time to reach out for help. Some common signs you might spot in your teen may include:
- Checking locks, light switches, or appliances over and over
- Worrying about health conditions
- Needing to have things lined up in a certain way
- Completing tasks in a specific order
- Needing to count things like steps
- Repetitive movements or vocal tics
- Fear of touching doorknobs or other objects
If you notice these OCD symptoms in your teen, talk to them about what they’re experiencing. They might be struggling with intrusive thoughts that they have difficulty sharing. An anxiety treatment program geared specifically towards OCD can help your teen understand and process their compulsions, find different coping mechanisms, and reintegrate into society more naturally. They don’t have to be defined by these unwanted thoughts, and it’s possible to learn how to manage this condition.
Treating OCD in Adolescents
What treatments can help adolescents with OCD? Most commonly, a blend of psychotherapy and medication is the answer.
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, can help teens change the way they think and react to intrusive thoughts. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of talk therapy that has proven to be highly effective for those with OCD.
Certain medications can also help teens with OCD symptoms. SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) can relieve symptoms and help teens control their thoughts and compulsions. These types of medications are usually used for depression, but many teens with OCD react positively to their effects as well.
OCD & Anxiety Treatment at Ascend Healthcare
At Ascend Healthcare, we offer anxiety treatment for teens who are struggling with mental health concerns, but we do not treat OCD directly. If you’re concerned that your teen is suffering from OCD symptoms, you should talk to your child’s doctor to learn more about your options. If the doctor believes your teen may benefit from residential treatment for anxiety, Ascend could be the right fit.