Obsessive compulsive disorder is a distressing anxiety related mental health disorder that can affect people of all ages, from toddlers to older adults. OCD is a difficult disorder to diagnose because many sufferers hide the symptoms they are experiencing due to feelings of shame and embarrassment, but it is estimated that around one in every hundred teenagers will be suffering from the disorder at any given time, so what are the symptoms of OCD in teenagers?
Obsessive compulsive disorder is characterized by obsessive thoughts and ideas that the sufferer finds difficult to ignore. The obsessions are often linked to compulsions—repetitive behavior carried out to make the obsessive thoughts disappear. The obsessions and compulsions normally fall into certain categories and the symptoms of OCD in teenagers include the following:
A fear of germs and contamination: a teenager showing the signs of obsessive compulsive disorder might become obsessed with personal hygiene and begin having showers several times per day. Washing hands repeatedly is another common trait in OCD sufferers. Others become obsessed about cleaning and develop complicated cleaning rituals for their homes.
Inappropriate sexual fantasies or violent thoughts: a teenager may become very distressed by intrusive sexual fantasies or images of a violent nature. Such obsessive thoughts and images begin to intrude on all areas of life and cause immense anxiety and distress.
Ritualistic behavior such as checking to see if lights or appliances have been turned off is common in OCD patients. Other obsessive compulsions include counting, ordering, getting dressed in a certain sequence, and other repetitive mental or physical acts designed to reduce anxiety levels and obsessive thoughts.
Many patients have a strong need for order and symmetry and if something is out of place, it can cause a great deal of distress. This might include any manner of household objects or miscellaneous items.
Impulsive behavior is associated with obsessive compulsive personality disorder. The teen might become tormented by the urge to shout obscenities or hurt someone, even thought it is not in their nature to do such a thing.
A fear of bad things happening to a loved one or self if a particular behavior is not carried out can be common in teenagers suffering from OCD. Such thoughts are often related to the “checking” compulsions. For example, the patient might be tormented by thoughts an appliance was not switched off and therefore the house will burn down as a result. So they have to keep checking, over and over again.
What causes obsessive compulsive disorder in teenagers?
OCD can sometimes arise in the aftermath of a traumatic event such as a death of a close family member or friend. There is also thought to be a genetic component to the disorder and cases of obsessive compulsive disorder often run in families, but in many instances, there is no obvious cause when a teenager of child begins to show the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder.
If you are suffering from the symptoms of OCD, it is very important that you seek professional help before the illness takes control of your life. OCD is very treatable and with the right help, patients can make a full recovery.