OCD can make you feel different, but OCD is just anxiety and you have an “extra dollop” more anxiety than other people. There is nothing different about you. OCD is mean and nasty, and will try to upset you whenever it can. It might stop you from going out to birthday parties because it tells you that something bad will happen if you do. It might make you do badly at school because you are so worried about counting or writing “perfectly”. Sometimes it can make you want to run away and hide or cry. Remember it is not you, this is just anxiety! OCD does NOT mean that:
• You have been naughty
• Your Mum and Dad are cross with you
• You are mad
• You are crazy
• You are weak
How does child OCD differ from adult OCD?
The emotional and cognitive skills are still developing in childhood and, as such, children with OCD may find it hard to understand their obsessions and compulsions. They may think that their fears are normal and fail to recognise that the behaviours are excessive. Children with OCD may be reluctant to discuss these problems, even with their parents because they feel frightened of the consequences. Children with OCD can exhibit “magical thinking” or “Thought-Action Fusion” where they believe that their fears will come true if they talk about them with a therapist (or anyone). Others may deny symptoms, or want to avoid dealing with them in the hope that their OCD will just go away by itself
How many people have OCD?
OCD is common and 3 in every 100 people experience this disorder. For example if there are 500 children in your school, at least 15 children will have OCD. Good news is that there are lots of people out there who can help you. It might feel scary telling someone about the worries you have, but it’s really important to let someone know how you’re feeling so that they can help you.
Treatment for childhood OCD
The only well-established treatment for childhood OCD is exposure-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with a strong emphasis on family involvement. The basic principles of treatment for children and adolescents with OCD are the same as for adults with OCD. A specific type of CBT known as "Exposure and Response Prevention" (ERP) has been found by researchers to be the most effective treatment for OCD in children, adolescents, and adults. Another CBT technique that is extremely valuable in the treatment of children and adolescents with OCD is called "Cognitive Restructuring". It is critical that children with OCD be treated by a therapist who not only specializes in the treatment of OCD, but also specializes in the treatment of children. It is important to ask your psychologist if they:
- Specialise in OCD
- Are a member of the APS College of Clinical Psychologists
- Have a PhD specialising in OCD
- Have a proven publication history researching OCD.
Important take home messages
• You are not the only one with OCD. There are 55,500 people in Brisbane with OCD
• Talking about OCD does not make it real
• You can stop the OCD thoughts
• You are not a bad person because you have scary thoughts
• The psychologist you will see works with people every day who have OCD so nothing sounds “weird or embarrassing”.
Disclaimer: The information on this page is very general and should not be seen as diagnosis or treatment advice. You should consult a psychologist or other qualified health professional for advice on your specific problems and the best form of treatment for you.