Children Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder OCD
Obsessive Compulsive Disordered suffered by anyone is distressing and difficult to handle, but when the afflicted person is a child, the condition can be even more overwhelming and frightening.
Lacking the cognitive understanding adults have, it can lead the child to feel isolated, embarrassed, and misunderstood, with little help from parents who do not understand. Fortunately, there are treatments available for this notoriously debilitating disease.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, also known as OCD, affects about 1% of children between ages seven and 12, and will often persist into adulthood. The cause is an imbalance of the neurotransmitter Serotonin, a chemical responsible for reactions to emotional stimuli such as fear, happiness, sadness, or aggression. When the uptake of Serotonin is blocked the brain cannot appropriately translate impulses, resulting in an overreaction to the stimuli. With OCD, the stimulus is often the recurring distressing thought, or the obsession, that prompts the reaction, which becomes the compulsion.
Symptoms between children and adults are very similar, but with children the symptoms will often play out more in a family setting since the child's center is the family. Obsessions can include worrying about imminent death of one or all family members without cause and fears of life limiting illness. These will lead to the belief, however uncoordinated it may seem, that keeping the family with them always will keep them safe, or that organizing obsessively will somehow avert the disaster. Often the child will wash frequently, not necessarily because they are dirty but because they fear contamination. It can be taxing for the family as a unit, both with management and self-esteem.
Treatment for a child with OCD is carefully monitored medication dosage and psychotherapy. The psychotherapy is especially important since a child's mind is still developing and a trained child psychologist can help the child break some of the obsessive compulsive thoughts or tendencies while helping the child to manage the symptoms of the disease the medication cannot stop. The common belief is that the brain is not fully formed until the age of 25 with a high induction of natural hormones occurring in adolescents, thereby requiring closer monitoring as this may prompt symptoms to become stronger or recur after remission.
Remembering that the condition can cause real terror and disruption in a child's life is crucial when it comes to understanding and tolerance.
While OCD in children is not a frequent occurrence, it is considerably difficult to manage. Emotional impacts of the condition and the condition itself can continue for a lifetime, so treatment is necessary to help maintain adequate self-esteem and worth. Helping the child in understanding the condition will lead to a greater chance at successful management and support.