Obsessive-compulsivedisorder commonly referred to as OCD is an anxiety disorder whichcauses recurring unpleasing behaviors or compulsions as well asobsessive thoughts which are hard to control. Obsessions aredisturbing and unwanted images or thoughts which get in the mind thuscausing a lot of anxiety while compulsions are persistent mental actsor behaviors which children perform so as reduce anxiety in them. These compulsions and obsessions may consume a child’s considerableduration of time in a day unlike other normal habits or worries whichnormal children usually have. Obsessive-compulsive disorder affectsabout one percent of teenagers and children within the generalpopulation. Different from other forms of mental or anxiety disorderswhich affect more female and less males, OCD affects twice as manyboy children as girl children. The contributory factors to thiscondition in children are both environmental and genetic. Like othermental disorders, early treatment of OCD is its only solution. Ifleft untreated, this disorder can become excessive and disabling forthe children thus hindering their development (Bruce & Cherry,2011).
Howsymptoms of OCD affects children’s development
OCDaffects children’s development through its symptoms. The symptomsof obsessive –compulsive disorder change from time to time and canvary with more obsessions and compulsions during stressful times andless of them during other times. Symptoms of OCD in children alsochange in intensity and content based on the nutrition they take,quality and quantity of sleep they get in a day, loneliness in schooland home life, and how often they exercise as well as schedulechanges. Children may resist some of their compulsions and obsessionswhen at school but it is not possible to do it at home. Thesesymptoms make children score low grades at school and affect thechildren’s relationship with their peers and family members thusaffecting their normal development (Stewart et al, 2007).
Commoncompulsions in children caused by OCD include arranging compulsionswhich entails children putting or arranging items in a particularway, checking compulsions where the children keep checkingappliances, doors and locks to ensure that they are all unplugged orswitched off. Other children will have the tendency of “checking“on their family members to ensure that they are okay. Anothercompulsion which most children portray is washing compulsion. Thisinvolves extreme washing behaviors such as excessive washing of handstill they bleed at times, excessive wiping after using the toilet aswell as excessive showering and tooth brushing. Another form ofcompulsion which children depict is the need to confess to the familymember’s their “bad” thoughts. This makes them to always seekreassurance of unconditional love from their family members afterconfessing those thoughts to them. Other compulsions involvestouching, counting and rubbing rituals. This is touching or countingthings in a certain way just to feel okay. For instance, a child mayhave unfortunate and fortunate numbers which they believe in. Thelast form of compulsions in children is mental rituals. Thesecompulsions cannot be seen, however children conduct them in theirminds repeatedly for example making repetitive prayers before bedtimeuntil they feel okay (Robert & Darin, 2011).
Thecommon obsessions in children suffering from OCD include fear ofunintentional self-harm or causing harm to the people they lovethrough their acts, fear of becoming sick after touching germs ormaking others sick after holding contaminated objects, as well as thefear of hurting or harming other people intentionally. Such fears andthoughts make the children to have great anxiety which cannot becontrolled. Another form of obsession in children is obsession withexactness and symmetry. This is where the affected child feels theurge to have things arranged in a particular manner. For instance,arranging them facing towards a particular direction or according totheir shapes or color. Children with OCD also spend much of theireffort and time ensuring they avoid anything which could prompt theirOCD. For instance, children with fears of contamination may refuse toshake other people’s hands or lay their hand on door knobs. Insevere cases of avoidance, children may refuse to leave their houseor go to school. This could affect their social development (Bruce &Cherry, 2011).
Atschool, children suffering from OCD condition have difficulties inconcentrating. This makes it difficult for them to follow theteacher’s directions, pay attention in class and completeassignment thus making schoolwork and school life difficult for suchchildren. Children with OCD also have low self esteem in bothacademic and social activities compared to other students in school.This makes them to withdraw or isolate themselves socially from theirpeers in school thus hindering their social and cognitive performance(Bruce & Cherry, 2011).
Diagnosisof OCD in children
Childpsychiatrists or psychologists as well as other mental healthprofessionals normally diagnose OCD in children after a comprehensivepsychiatric examination. For a child to be diagnosed to be sufferingfrom OCD, the obsessive and compulsive behaviors must be severe,disturbing, and persistent enough to adversely affect the child’sdevelopment and daily function. Since a child cannot be able torealize that they are developing some abnormal and irrationalbehaviors, it is important for parents who note severe compulsive,anxiety and obsessive behaviors in their children to seek psychiatricevaluation early so as to prevent problems in future (Natalie, 2009).
Causesof OCD in children
Justlike in other mental disorders, there is no known exact cause of OCDin children. However, the contributory factors of this disorder areboth environmental and genetic. Environmental factors which may makea child develop OCD or worsen its symptoms include children gettingemotionally or physically abused, parents dying when the children arestill very young, or are having certain diseases that cause somebrain changes would make them vulnerable to OCD. Another contributoryfactor to this condition is children having problems that are schoolrelated or relationship problems with the people close to them.Medical research conducted by heath professionals has shown thatchildren suffering from OCD have a chemical imbalance of the braincells known as serotonin. OCD can also be inherited because it has abiological element. Children whose parents or close relativessuffered or are suffering from OCD are more likely to suffer from thesame condition unlike other children. However, OCD can also developin children who do not have a family history of this disorder onlythat the likelihood of developing it is lower (Natalie, 2009).
Treatmentof OCD in children
Thoughthere are drugs available for treating severs cases of OCD inteenagers and adults, it is not recommended for children to takethese drugs because of the side effects associated with their use.The most effective method of treating OCD in children is getting atherapist to conduct behavioral therapy to the affected child.Cognitive behavior therapy or CBT is most effective behavioraltherapy for children. It involves exposing the child repeatedly to anobsession, for instance, something that the child fears is dirty orcontaminated, and teach him or her to resist the compulsive ritualbehavior. With time the child will learn to resist the obsessions andcompulsions and start behaving normally. Cognitive behavioral therapyalso helps the children suffering from OCD to conquer the flawedbeliefs which make them to develop obsessive and compulsivebehaviors. Therapy for children with OCD can be done either as agroup of children suffering from this disorder, one on one with thetherapist, or together with family members. When doing familytherapy, the therapist can educate the family members of the affectedchild about OCD, give them support and suggestions on various waythey can help the child suffering form OCD (Natalie, 2009).
Homeand school remedies of children with OCD
Tomake an effective treatment plan for children suffering from OCD, itis important to make some adjustments and create a tolerant andsympathetic environment for the child with OCD on top of thebehavioral therapy session that they go through. This will helpgreatly in making the children recover fully from this mentaldisorder. Some of the various ways that parents at home and teachersat school can help the children suffering from this disorder includecommending the child’s attempts to defy the obsessive andcompulsions behaviors even if the progress is little. It is alsoimportant for parents to listen to feelings of the childemphatically it could have a helpful and powerful effect on thechild. The teachers should on the arrival of the child to schoolcheck whether he or she can succeed in particular classes on that dayto prevent adding more anxiety to the kid. The teachers can alsoadjust the assignment load for such children to prevent them frombeing overwhelmed, give more time to the children to finish someassignment, and allow late arrival for these children to schoolbecause of the symptoms of OCD which may make them to delay at home.It is also important for the parents and teachers to educate andinform themselves about the effects and nature of OCD in children.This will assist them to sympathize with the struggles that thechildren suffering from this disorder go through (Sarvet, 2013).
Inconclusion, even though one of the symptoms associated withobsession-compulsion disorder is having superstitions and rituals, attimes it is developmentally appropriate and normal for littlechildren to have them unless they are disruptive and severe in a waythat they hinder their development. For instance, preschool childrennormally have routines and use rituals during bedtime, mealtimes andshower times which help them understand and calm down theirexpectations about the world. Also, children of school going ageusually develop group routines and rituals as they recite rhymes andplay games together. These routines and rituals help them to masteranxiety and enable them to socialize. Since there is no known exactcause of obsession-compulsion disorder, preventive measures todecrease the chances of developing in children are also unknown.However, parents can lessen the harshness of OCD symptoms, and boostnormal development of their children through early intervention anddetection of this disorder.
Stewartet al. 2007. Principal Components Analysis of Obsessive CompulsiveDisorder Symptoms in Children and Adolescents. BiologicalPsychiatry.61. pp285-291.
Sarvet,B (2013). "Childhood obsessive-compulsive disorder."Pediatricsin review / American Academy of Pediatrics34 (1): 19–27.
Natalie,R. (2009). Obsessive-compulsivedisorder : the ultimate teen guide,Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press.
BruceM H. & Cherry, P. (2011). Obsessive-compulsivedisorder,Minneapolis, MN : Twenty-First Century Books.
Robert,H. & Darin, D. (2011). Clinical Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders inAdults and Children, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.