Adapted from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry:

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is seen in as many as 1 in 200 children and adolescents. OCD is characterized by recurrent intense obsessions and/or compulsions that cause severe discomfort and interfere with day-to-day functioning.

Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are unwanted and cause marked anxiety or distress. Frequently, they are unrealistic or irrational. They are not simply excessive worries about real-life problems or preoccupations.

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or rituals (like hand washing, keeping things in order, checking something over and over) or mental acts (like counting, repeating words silently, avoiding).

In OCD, the obsessions or compulsions must cause significant anxiety or distress, or interfere with the child’s normal routine, academic functioning, social activities, or relationships.

Research shows that OCD is a brain disorder and tends to run in families. Good communication between parents and children can increase understanding of the problem and help the parents appropriately support their child.

Most children with OCD can be treated effectively with a combination of psychotherapy and medication. If you’re concerned that your child or teen may have OCD, start by talking with their pediatrician or a children’s behavioral health provider.

To learn more facts about OCD in children and adolescents, visit the AACAP page on OCD at the link below: