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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in Children

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a neurobiological disorder and has the potential to disturb the intellectual, social and the professional performance of the affected person. The most crucial aspect of the disorder are the persistent obsessions and compulsions which the child witnesses, hindering the daily life.  Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an illness which affects many children and teenagers. Most children worry or fear about something or the other, but when a child has an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), the worry just doesn’t seem to evade the child or the affected person. It is this compulsion to worry and doubt which changes or alters their disorders and they are forced to behave in compulsive ways, constantly and recurrently.

This disorder in young children is not uncommon, and the approximately 1 percent of the children and adolescents are affected by this disorder (Valleni et al., 1994). The disorder is marked by persistent redundant and repulsive thoughts or doubts and worries, which are the symptoms of the disorder. Very often the children are embarrassed by these recurring symptoms and in most cases prefer to keep this as a closely guarded secret from their friends and sometimes even their family members. In cases when the symptoms are apparent in very young children, very often the family members do not construe them to be signs of some disorder.
OCD is characterized by some kind of habitual and continual disorder or pattern which generally persists for more than one hour daily. As such there is an intrusion in the child’s daily routine and the obsessive thoughts cause the child tremendous anguish and suffering, due to the embarrassment they tend to feel. The disorder at most times tends to make the child feel bizarre and unreasonable and it is due to this peculiarity that the children may tend to hide the disorder and maintain it as a secret from others.

Usually, children are diagnosed with OCD when they are about seven years to twelve years old. Even when the disorder is not diagnosed, most adults with late diagnosis have reported that their initial symptoms began when they were children (Rasmussen & Eisen). The symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are very easily recognizable to teachers, parents and pediatricians, as they can be easily differentiated from the normal childhood fallacies and worries.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) not only causes suffering among the affected children, but also interferes with academics and socialization of the children. Research has indicated that the occurrence of the disorder is likely to hinder the growth of the child greatly and in some cases is even related with chronic gloominess and can in some cases cause severe long term social harm to the affected children (Bolton D., Luckie M. & Steinberg D.)  It has been proved that in order to reduce the long lasting injury caused by the disorder, it must be detected as early as possible and be treated assertively (Leonard et al., 1993).
According to a study, the disorder affects as many as 2.2 million Americans (Kessler et al., 2005) and may cause several other disorders such as eating disorders (Wonderlich & Mitchell, 1997) and other anxiety disorders or sometimes even cases of depression (Robins & Regier, 1991; Regier et al., 1998). The disorder is known to affect males and females equally and generally onsets in the childhood adolescent or the periods of initial youth and adulthood ((Robins & Regier, 1991). Nearly a third of the patients with the disorder, develop symptoms in their early childhood years and there have been several indications that the disorder may be genetically transferred or inherited (NIMH Genetics Workgroup, 1998).

The disorder or the disease does not follow any fixed course or path and the symptoms of the disorder may range from being very severe to mild, off and on. However, if the disorder is very severe, the daily routine of the affected child may be disrupted to a very great extent. Adolescents affected by the disorder are known to be using alcohol or sometimes even drugs in order to regain their calm (Regier et al., 1998; Kushner et al., 1990). Most children and adolescents have been reported to respond well to the treatments and medications.