Obsessive Compulsive Disorder In Children Essay Research

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder In Children Essay, Research Paper  Obsessive-Compulsive disorder is a very common disorder among adults. There

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder In Children Essay, Research Paper

Obsessive-Compulsive disorder is a very common disorder among adults. There

are many people in this society who do not realize that children can also get this certain

disorder. This disorder affects about two or three people out of every hundred. The two

main symptoms are obsessions and compulsions.

Obsessions are upsetting thoughts, pictures that keep coming into your

mind even though you do not want them to. Compulsions are repetitive

behaviors (e.g. hand washing, ordering, checking) or mental acts (e.g.

praying, counting, repeating words silently) that the person feels driven to

perform in response to an obsession, or according to rules that must be

applied fanatical. (Levenkron, 1991)

For the remainder of the paper, I will be exploring the causes and the treatment of

obsessive-compulsive disorder in children and adolescents, and giving examples of

children who have the disorder.

Children and adults with OCD have similar obsessions and compulsions.

Approximately eighty percent of adults with this disorder have their onset during their

childhood or teenage years. The sad thing that I feel is that there are not enough studies

done on children and teenagers to learn more about the disorder that many of these

juveniles acquire. I believe that if there were more studies done on children who are

either depressed or obsessive over something then some of these problems could get


Some of the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder in children and teens are;

adolescents are that they are afraid of getting dirty or catching germs and they may spend

a lot of time worrying about lucky and unlucky numbers. These children also spend an

abundance of time trying to make everything around them perfect. Just about everyone

thinks about things like this but, children with OCD worry so much about these that they

are on their mind the whole day everyday. Every second of the say they are thinking

about this and trying to fix things in their mind that sometimes are not fixable. The more

that someone with this disorder does this the more uncomfortable they feel. Children

often ask the question, “Can I catch OCD?” If they hear about the disorder they

repeatedly want to know this.

There are very few causes of this disorder. Basically there is no simple way to

explain the causes of OCD. No one is exactly sure what the accurate causes are, but

through learning more about it and doing more studies there are some things that doctors

would say that are the causes. It is the thought that the causes are a combination of both

mental and physical factors. Physically a chemical in your brain, called serotonin, may

play a role. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter . People with obsessive-compulsive disorder

may not have enough of this in their brain. This is the reason that medicines that increase

the amount of serotonin in the brain can decrease the symptoms of OCD. Compulsive

rituals actually strengthen the disorder because although the rituals are not “pleasing” to

the person, they actually reduce the anxiety caused by the obsessive thoughts (American

Family Physician, 1998). Any ritual that helps the anxiety “go away” is likely to be

repeated. When ever someone performs a compulsive ritual, they avoid having to

actually face the thing or things that they are afraid of. For example, if a child were to

wash their hands aver and over, they do not have to worry about getting dirty or catching

any germs. Another example is that if someone with OCD repeatedly checks to make

sure that their door is locked, they do not have to worry about the door being unlocked.

This helps to sustain obsessive-compulsive disorder because to overcome a fear, one must

face that fear. I believe that many parents do not look for this disorder in their children

because they do not want to “face the music” if their children do have OCD. It is my

feeling that many parent think that this could never happen o their child although it could

really happen to anyone, no matter who they are.

There are some treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder in children. One

treatment is the serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) sertraline. This a safe and effective

short-tern treatment for children with OCD. The recommended initial doses are twenty-

five mg once daily for children who are between the ages of six and twelve, and fifty mg a

day for teens between thirteen and seventeen (Bradbury, 1998).

The efficacy of exposure and responsive prevention and the potential

contribution of parental involvement in treatment were investigated for four

children with principal DSM-III-R diagnoses of OCD referred to the Center

for Stress and Anxiety Disorders, Child and Adolescent Fear and Anxiety

Treatment Program. Monitoring consisted of parent and child diaries of

obsessive-compulsive symptoms and daily child Subjective Units of Distress

(SUDS) ratings for a ten-item hierarchy. Results through twelve-month

follow-up suggest that exposure and response prevention with parental

involvement shows promise in the treatment of childhood treatment. (Knox,

Albano and Barlow, 1999)

There are other remedies for people with this disorder, but children would not be equally

responsive to the same treatment as an adult would. There is behavior therapy which

specifically includes exposure with response (ritual) prevention, which is the most

effective treatment currently available (Tompkins, 1999). In this type of therapy,

individuals expose themselves gradually to the fear that they have. As their treatment

progresses, individuals gradually experience less anxiety and fewer urges to ritualize.

Medications have proved effective in controlling OCD symptoms. However, many

people relapse when they stop taking their medication. For this reason, many clinicians

recommend behavior therapy, or behavior therapy and medication. Some of the time,

people may find that their obsessions and compulsions are weaker and do not happen as

often, but they may not completely go away. I think that if behavior therapy is working as

well as they say then children should not have to go on any medication. Why make the

child take medication when there is a risk of addiction or overdose? If therapy is just as

effective, if not more, than I think that a parent should have their child go through

therapy rather than taking any medication at all.

I have a couple of examples of children who have this disorder. The first example

is an eleven-year-old boy named Corey Hobbs who is from Dallas, Texas. He began

treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder when he was only nine-years-old (Emslie,

1999). At that time he said, “I want to know more about it.” He now says “I didn’t know

anything about it, either, but now I’ve learned a lot.” It was his mother who noticed it

first. It started out that school was getting to be a problem. He was still getting A’s, but

he was obsessed with doing more and more. If he could not finish a test, he would get

really upset and keep saying, “I have to finish, I have to finish!” He said that he also knew

that he was depressed. All he wanted to do at home was clean and clean. He never

wanted to go outside and play with his friends. Besides cleaning, Hobbs was obsessed

with touching and rearranging things. He would always smell unpleasant odors because

they bothered him so much. He became overly upset when his friends behaved in ways

that he did not approve. Hobbs was treated with behavior therapy and medication and is

doing quite well. He has learned to balance doing homework and playing with his

friends. Another example is a fifteen-year-old girl named Olivia. Olivia would take

shower for at least an hour and a half every night. After that she would arrange her books

for an hour before she would start he homework. When her homework was complete-

about midnight-she starts her selection of the clothing that she is going to wear the next

day which would take her about an hour. She would get up really bright and early the

next morning, but by the time she would get to school the next morning, after all of her

rituals, she would be a half-an-hour or so late to her first class. Olivia is going through

behavior therapy and doing respectably well.

All in all, I have learned a lot about obsessive-compulsive disorder in children. In

this term paper I have showed that there are many symptoms, few causes, and even

treatments for this disorder. Children who have this disorder and far and few between,

compared to adults, but doctors are finding more and more cases a day. By addressing

this problem of our society today, less children will feel like they are “going crazy”.