How OCD Differs for Different Age Groups

How OCD Differs for Different Age Groups

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a mental health disorder in which a person has obsessive, intrusive thoughts that lead to compulsive behaviors or rituals. OCD can affect people of varying ages and walks of life.

This being the case, it’s important to acknowledge that different age groups often display different symptoms of OCD and express their symptoms differently. Knowing the differences can help you recognize obsessive-compulsive tendencies in yourself or your loved ones.

OCD in Children

Children who have OCD can often be unlikely to share their symptoms, due to the fact that they don’t realize what they are. However, child-onset OCD can cause frustrations at school and make it difficult for your children to make friends. Here are some signs and behaviors to keep an eye out for:

  • Feeling things have to be “just right” and constantly reorganizing their toys.

  • Worrying about germs and excessively washing their hands.

  • Intense fear that something bad will happen and repeatedly performing a ritual to ensure the bad thing doesn’t happen.

OCD in a child is often treated using Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy methods to reduce symptoms.

OCD in Adolescents

Young adults with OCD can be better aware of their symptoms, but feel reluctant to accept, much less share, their diagnosis, often for fear that they will be deemed “crazy.” This can often lead adolescents to resist treatment, which allows their symptoms to further progress.

Adolescents with OCD can find themselves in power-struggles with their parents, acting as if they are the ones in charge. In order to prevent these arguments from exacerbating their symptoms, it’s important to seek out a clinician who is well-versed in treating OCD in adolescents.

OCD in Adults

Depending on the severity of their OCD, adults often recognize their symptoms. Whether they seek treatment is another story. Some people may resist getting treatment for their OCD because they fear negative social stigmas, while others think they can control their symptoms on their own. In some cases, adults will only seek treatment if their symptoms seriously impact their daily life.

Common OCD symptoms in adults include:

  • Avoiding physical contact or intimacy for fear of germs or other contamination.

  • Being unable to throw out unnecessary objects for fear that something bad may happen if they no longer have them.

  • Constantly rechecking your work, to the point where other deadlines are missed.

  • Sudden bouts of anxiety that come from focusing on one obsession too much.

  • Being unable or unwilling to change a daily routine.

Change Your Life at Its Core with NBI

If you or your child exhibit symptoms of OCD, you don’t have to go through the motions alone. NeuroBehavioral Institute offers intensive treatment for many serious and debilitating psychological conditions, including an internationally recognized intensive treatment program for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Severe Anxiety, and Related Disorders.

To begin changing your life at its core, give us a call today.


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