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  • John Roberts

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in children and young people.

Having a problem like this has a tendency to demand a young person’s time. As a rule, if your child is spending more than an hour a day worrying (obsessing) and doing things to make the worry go away (compulsions) then they need a hand overcoming their problem. It is not unusual for children and young people (adults too!) at the more severe end of the problem to be spending six, eight or more hours on their worries and habits.

Usually, children and young people will experience an intrusive, unsettling and unpleasant thought. This thought is generally so worrying that they will form habits to ‘neutralize’ or make the worry go away. The problem with this is that the ‘action’ to make the worry go away is only temporary and sure enough the same worry comes back again.

The range of worries and habits is frankly just too large to describe here. Common themes are about contracting a dread disease or illness, harm coming to the self or a loved one, worries that something bad will happen, extreme worries that the child has done something wrong or could harm someone, things are not ‘just right’, worrying about things not being in the right order or not being symmetrical. The unlucky child or young person may also have a combination of worries. Nothing is unusual where habits and worries are concerned!

Having worries stimulates the child to ‘take action’. After all, if you are worried that either you, Mum or Dad is going to be ill and die, or that you might cause harm unless you act, is ghastly and unpleasant. Most children will then take immediate action about it. Again, the range of ‘actions’ can vary and sometimes they may not seem logical either. Common habits include avoiding situations or things that might seem dangerous to the child, forming habits to make the worry go away (for example, washing hands, counting rituals, checking, repeating actions until they feel ‘just right’ and so forth) or excessive re-assurance seeking. The habit might be something someone else can see the child doing; or sometimes the habit might be something that the child is doing internally (counting, praying, mental reviewing etc). In most cases a child and perhaps their family can simply just feel frustrated, unhappy and exhausted keeping OCD ‘happy’ and keeping the worries or the dreaded outcome at bay.

So how do we help the young person with this problem? Importantly the first helpful step is to do with appreciating that the young person is not ‘silly’, ‘strange’ or ‘difficult’. This problem loves causing arguments and stress in families. The more stress and arguments there are about it the better for this problem to grow. Try to appreciate that worries are normal and that your young person is just reacting normally. They are trying to be helpful in the context of excessive worries – the trouble is this is a ‘type of problem that just loves unhelpful helping’! It ends up consuming more and more of a young person’s time. The second step. There are treatments that work for this problem and the Worry Man is waiting for your booking. Breaking free of this problem can be achieved in a relatively short time scale. Please make your booking enquiry on this site!

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