www.moms.com

What You Need To Know About Obsessive Compulsive Symptoms In Kids

mom hugging child

There’s a new report that suggests many health professionals are worried about obsessive compulsive symptoms in not only adults, but children, too. Generally, obsessive compulsive disorder (which is also known as OCD) is when excessive thoughts (obsessions) that lead to repetitive behaviors (compulsions). It’s also characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead to compulsive behaviors.And while treatment can help, but this condition can't be cured.

There’s a new study that suggests behaviors that develop into obsessive and compulsive symptoms (OCS) may represent a red flag for serious psychiatric conditions.Researchers at the Lifespan Brain Institute (LiBI) of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania founds that children who suffer from OCD are more likely to also experience psychopathology, including depression and suicide later on in their lives.

Many symptoms with compulsive behavior include (but are not limited to) agitation, compulsive hoarding, hypervigilance, impulsivity, meaningless repetition of own words, repetitive movements, and ritualistic behavior. You might also notice social isolation, or persistent repetition of words or actions in your loved one or child.

"Our hope is that these results will propel both mental health professionals and non-mental health practitioners, such as pediatricians, to probe for these symptoms during their patients' visits," said the study's principal investigator Raquel Gur, MD, PhD, director of the LiBI and a professor of Psychiatry, Neurology and Radiology in the Perelman School of Medicine. "These symptoms may be vital for identifying adolescents who are on a potentially debilitating psychiatric trajectory."

But here’s the thing you need to keep in mind: compulsions are learned behaviors, which become repetitive and habitual when they are associated with relief from anxiety. OCD is due to genetic and hereditary factors. Chemical, structural and functional abnormalities in the brain are the cause. Distorted beliefs reinforce and maintain symptoms associated with OCD.

Although OCD does occur at earlier ages, there are generally two age ranges when OCD first appears: Between ages 10 and 12 and between the late teens and early adulthood. It typically starts between 18 and 25 but can begin anytime. I've met kids as young as 6 or 7 years old with it.

If you feel as though your child might be suffering from OCD, luckily, there are several ways that you can help. You can either sign your child up for a support group or try one of several different modes of therapy. Some of them include cognitive therapy, which is a talk therapy focused on modifying negative thoughts, behaviors and emotional responses associated with psychological distress. Through mental health education, you can also help a loved one with OCD overcome their fears by supporting, validating or empowering them.

READ NEXT: Children Living With Anxiety Often Don’t Get the Help They Need

Policies Regulating Alcohol And Drug Use During Pregnancy Doing More Harm Than Good

More in Parenting