Have you noticed signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder in your teen? OCD is an anxiety disorder that causes intrusive, irrational thoughts in sufferers that they feel can only be tempered by repeating certain behaviors. Common intrusive thoughts include feeling that harm may come to yourself or someone in your family, or fear that you have done something unsafe, such as left the stove on or the door unlocked. Common compulsions that help relieve the anxiety that comes with such thoughts are repeated checking, hand-washing, counting, or arranging objects just so. Left unchecked, these obsessions and compulsions can get out of control, taking over the life of sufferers so that there is little time left for anything else. Thankfully, treatment is available.
OCD does not discriminate between the sexes or among ethnic groups. Sign of the disorder often can be seen in childhood, but they sometimes wait until the teen years or early adulthood to manifest themselves. OCD is believed to be genetic, so the chances of inheriting it from a family member are increased.
You may be able to spot symptoms of OCD in a child, but when a teen or young adult is suffering, they often are capable of hiding it for a period of time out of fear, embarrassment and worry. If asked, they may deny any problem. They may be afraid to voice their intrusive thoughts, or they may just hope they go away on their own. These thoughts can wax and wane, but they rarely go completely away, as it is believed their origin is rooted in a brain dysfunction.
Medication and Therapy
That does not mean, however, that those with OCD are doomed to suffer. Many find medication to be helpful. The same medications used for depression — selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors — often are useful in combatting OCD. Combining medication with behavioral therapy if often the best course of treatment. In behavioral therapy, the therapist works with the patient to allow the intrusive thoughts to enter the mind, then resist the urge to act on the compulsion. At first it is difficult, but with practice, it becomes easier, and eventually the thoughts become less anxiety-provoking.
The teen years are fraught with all types of anxieties. The way each person handles anxiety is different, and those prone to OCD will likely see their anxieties manifested by intrusive thoughts and compulsive actions. Therefore, the sooner they are able to identify and deal with anxieties, the easier it will be for them to manage their disorder. They need to know that it is not their fault they have OCD, they did not cause it and cannot make it go away, but they do have the power to control it with the proper help.
Havenwood Academy has a proven program for treating teens with OCD. Their residential facility offers hope to those who have tried, unsuccessfully, to combat this disorder at home. If your teen is suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, call Havenwood today to see how they can help you help her reclaim her life.
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