Children can have obsessive-compulsive disorder
Info in advance
People with compulsions can usually justify their actions and are satisfied with their way of coping with everyday life.
The situation is quite different with obsessive-compulsive disorders. Those affected feel compelled to do or think certain things when they really don't want to.
The compulsions or obsessions usually have nothing to do with worries about actual problems in everyday life, but rather occur in connection with unrealistic dangers.
Does my child have obsessive-compulsive disorder?
If most of the following have been true of your child for at least two weeks on most days, chances are your child has an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
- My child repeats the same actions over and over again. For example, it washes its hands several times an hour, constantly checks whether windows and doors are closed or keeps counting the number of thumbtacks, matches or similar things.
- My child keeps thinking about the same conceptions and ideas. For example, a child may be plagued by the recurring idea of inadvertently harming their younger sibling.
- My child finds these actions or thoughts uncomfortable and tries to defend himself against them.
- My child wants to use these actions or thoughts to prevent dreaded events.
- My child becomes anxious or very uncomfortable trying to stop these actions or thoughts.
- My child knows that they are thoughts or impulses of their own. So it is not saying that anyone or anything is forcing it to do so.
Since obsessive-compulsive disorder can manifest itself in many different forms, the examples presented are only guidelines.
Why does my child have obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Different factors are likely to be involved in the development of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Biological, hereditary and social experiences in the family and particularly stressful life events may play a role in the development of compulsions (such as separation or divorce of parents, illness or loss of a close relative).
Often times, obsessive-compulsive disorder starts out harmlessly. For example, if a child worries that their mother will not be back at the agreed time, they may find that counting all sorts of things in the meantime can take their mind off their fear. They may then use this technique on other occasions to manage their fear.
At some point, the original reason why it started may become completely unimportant. Without the act, the child becomes restless and fearful of what might happen if he stops, and therefore keeps it.
Who can help my child?
Treating obsessive-compulsive disorder is difficult, but there are a number of therapy options that can be effective.
If children or adolescents are affected, it is extremely important that the entire family is included in the therapy. Family therapies or behavioral therapies can therefore usually show good results.
Therapy methods based on depth psychology, such as play therapy, can also be used effectively to treat the disease.
If psychotherapeutic procedures do not bring the desired success in individual cases, there is also the option of drug treatment.
The treatment can be carried out on an outpatient as well as partially or fully inpatient basis.
Your doctor will discuss with you which form is most suitable in your case.
How can I help my child?
If your child suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, therapeutic treatment in which you as the parent are involved is important.
Your cooperation in eliminating the fault is usually indispensable. The therapist will work with you to discuss suitable procedures specifically for dealing with your child.
There are also some general procedures that you should follow:
- Since your child is not completely in control of their actions, it is important that you help them do so. Ask your child to limit their compulsions or thoughts as much as possible. For example, you could only allow your child with a compulsory wash to have access to washing facilities at certain times.
- On the other hand, if you do not oppose your child, are compliant, or even help them perform their compulsions, it usually leads to an exacerbation of symptoms.
- Since your child needs your attention just as or even more than healthy children, it is important to make time for activities together. These should be fun for you and especially your child and should offer as little opportunity as possible to deal with the compulsive acts or obsessive thoughts.
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