What To Do If You Suspect Your Teen Has OCD

OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, can be disorienting and frightening for anyone who develops it, let alone young people. As a parent, if you notice that your child seems to be exhibiting symptoms of OCD, you may be worried and scared for them. The good news is that there is help out there. Here's what you should be looking for and some steps to take if you think your child has OCD.

How it May Manifest

OCD tends to be a little different for everyone, but it does have certain hallmark traits in just about all of those who develop it. Notably, the 'obsessive-compulsive' part of the disorder's name is key here.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder tends to cause people to become 'stuck' on things, and as a result, they end up being strung out and fuss over them. One of the classic examples is washing one's hands excessively, but this isn't always a symptom. Other examples include things like checking to see if a door is locked repeatedly, turning a light switch on and off a set number of times before leaving a room, or being obsessed with doing things in specific numbers, like sets of three. These symptoms may worsen or improve on a day-to-day basis, so if your teen doesn't seem impacted by them sometimes, don't assume that it isn't OCD.

What Not to Do

One thing that parents should never do if they suspect that their children have OCD is to scold or tease them over it. Anxiety and OCD tend to go hand-in-hand, and when anxiety increases, OCD symptoms tend to worsen. As a result, what may feel like gentle teasing to you or an attempt to straighten out your kid by punishing them may simply make matters worse. Unfortunately, OCD can also manifest in more self-destructive forms, like self-harm, which some OCD sufferers turn to when their more visible symptoms draw unwanted attention.

Getting Help

Having OCD doesn't mean that your child is broken or damaged. For many people, it's a mental disorder that develops without any outside force, while others will experience it due to a traumatic event. In either case, you can get help for your child via counseling and therapy. In some cases, these groups will even come to you to help make your child as comfortable as possible. Your child's support group and therapist will help them to find the root of their OCD triggers and find ways to handle them without going through repetitive and stress-inducing behaviors.

For more information about getting help for your child through an OCD outpatient treatment program, contact a local facility.