Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, also known as OCD, is a mental health disorder. Though OCD can affect people of all ages, it most commonly begins in adolescence. It is made up of two components: obsession and compulsion. Obsessions are persistent, unwanted thoughts or urges. Most young people with OCD are aware of their obsessions, as they can be irrational, and in some cases, inappropriate. Part of this disorder is that the teen will be unable to control his or her obsessive urges and or thoughts. This, in turn, can create high levels of anxiety for the teenager. The other component, compulsions, are rituals or repeated behaviors that are done to decrease the anxiety that is caused by the obsessive thoughts.
Every teenager is different and will have a somewhat nuanced and unique experience regarding the symptoms of OCD. Some teens will exhibit either obsessions or compulsions, but most frequently a teen will experience a combination. The symptoms experienced are severe enough to cause a significant disruption in a younger person’s life, typically consuming a minimum of one hour per day. This can get in the way of a teen’s normal daily activities, interfering with one’s social life, school, family…etc. As previously indicated, this disorder is split between compulsions and obsessions. Obsessions are typically thoughts, whereas compulsions are most commonly behaviors. Some of the common obsessions that can be exhibited in young people are:
- Doubts (obsessively worrying about whether or not the door was closed properly, bag was fully zipped, faucet was turned off…etc.)
- Contamination (obsession with germs and staying clean)
- Order (obsessively thinking about everything being in an exact order)
- Violence/ Aggression (obsessing about violent impulses and fear of being unable to control one’s urge)
There are various types of compulsive behaviors that can occur in teenagers who have OCD. The following examples include some of the most commonly displayed compulsions in younger people:
- Counting (constantly counting out loud or in one’s head to reduce anxiety)
- Checking (continuously checking to make sure a task was properly preformed, example: closing the refrigerator door)
- Ordering (always making sure things are in the exact same order)
- Repeating actions (example: repeatedly tapping one’s foot in attempts to avoid acting on one’s inappropriate urges)
- Constantly washing or cleaning (hands, body, items…etc.)
- Constantly seeking reassurance
The above lists are simply examples of what can arise when a teen has OCD. Though some young people may be aware of their OCD, and even know that their obsessions and compulsions are illogical, some adolescents may not. It is highly common for the symptoms of OCD to surface during the adolescent stage of one’s life.
Nowadays there are several ways in which to help treat young people with OCD. Most commonly, OCD is treated with various therapeutic methods, and in some cases medication. Two commonly used therapeutic modalities to treat OCD include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). At Pacific Teen Treatment, we ensure a tailored treatment plan for each of our residents. Should medication be necessary we utilize the leading experts in adolescent psychiatry and collaborate with our resident’s parents both for permission and continued involvement in the treatment process. Additionally, at Pacific Teen Treatment, we place great emphasis on helping to heal the entire teenager. This includes making sure one is properly self-caring through daily exercise and healthy eating habits at our residential program. Furthermore, we encourage our teens to practice various holistic relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation. Addressing one’s entire self is essential when it comes to mental health treatment. Integrating these relaxation tools and other holistic approaches can be very helpful in one’s recovery process from OCD.
Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs for their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit and in order to maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times. Seeking help is never easy but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Seeking support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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