Written by Allen Brown.
Worrying is a part of growing up. However, some children develop an unhealthy amount of concerns about everyday tasks that hinder their ability to live a normal life. This severe anxiety is a result of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which can have significant impacts on the individual’s life. This psychological disorder is characterized by overwhelming feelings of worry and concern about death, unwanted thoughts about hurting others or of a sexual nature. Additionally, patients are constantly feeling that things always have to be a certain way for them to feel comfortable, and if that is disrupted it leads to significant emotional distress.
As a parent, it can be extremely difficult to accept that your child may have additional needs that require additional support. It is also your responsibility to spot the signs as early as possible, so that your child can get the treatment they need and live their best life. In this article, we will advise you of how to know if your child has OCD.
Learn More About The Condition
When you notice that your child may be suffering with a disorder, it is important that you familiarise yourself with it by learning more about it. There are many online resources that you can access in order to learn about different conditions. It is important to note that this will not make you a medical or psychological expert, as that requires many years of studying and training and you should not attempt to formulate a diagnosis yourself. However, becoming more knowledgeable will allow you to understand what your child may be going through, what to look for and how to help them.
Consult with a Specialist
The only sure method to know whether your child has OCD, is to consult a specialist that can formulate a diagnosis. There is a lot of stigma attached to mental health and psychological disorders. It is true that unfortunately, there is still a lot of negativity associated with being clinically diagnosed with a mental health condition. The fear of being judged or not having the same opportunities when it comes to education or employment for example, are some of the reasons people tend to steer clear of diagnosis. However, it is important to note that your child may be suffering greatly to adjust to a life that most people conform to. Health experts at myhealth1st.com.au/health-hub/articles/what-is-obsessive-compulsive-disorder/ explain that there are different treatments for this condition, and this is necessary so that the patient can learn how to cope with the disorder. If you are concerned about side-effects to medication or getting addicted to these, you will be glad to know what psychological therapies are a popular therapeutic approach to supporting individuals with OCD.
Look For Signs
When you know more about a condition, you will know what signs to look for that will indicate whether your child suffers from OCD. There is a high misconception of what OCD is, what it entails and what patients with this disorder go through. OCD is often associated with a need to be clean and overly organized, although this is not always how it manifests. Some individuals display obsessive thoughts and behaviours, but this does not mean that they suffer from OCD. This disorder is full-time and disables individuals from living a normal life free of stress and high anxiety. Below we discuss some of the common the signs associated with OCD:
Common obsessive thoughts in OCD:
- Irrational fear of germs
- Irrational fear of hurting yourself or others
- Overwhelming fear of dying or losing those you love
- Disturbing thoughts of sexual nature
- Overwhelming obsession with religion and moral ideas
- Constant need to have things done a certain way
- Overpowering superstitions
Common compulsive behaviours in OCD:
- Constant need to double check locks, switches and appliances
- Constant need to check on family members and friends
- Relying on senseless coping mechanisms to reduce anxiety, such as counting, tapping or repeating certain words
- A lot of time spend on washing themselves and places around
- Avoiding touching others or surfaces without cleaning it first
- Constantly rearranging things
- Praying excessively
Speak With The School
You may start to notice that your child is displaying some of the indicative thoughts and behaviours suggesting they may suffer from OCD. As much as you may try to learn about the condition it can feel overwhelming as a parent. Speaking to the school and your child’s teacher may be a good idea so that you can get a second opinion. Generally speaking, children spend the best part of their days in school with their teachers, therefore if they are displaying certain behaviours the teacher would be able to spot this. Although they are not medical experts, they may have the required knowledge and experience to advise you that you should consult with a medical professional.
Having OCD can have detrimental impacts on different aspects of the child’s life. It is very important that you recognise the signs and seek medical support as soon as you can. This will ensure that your child can grow up living a ‘normal’ life.