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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Kids and Teens

obsessive compulsive disorder kids teens

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a serious mental health condition that often goes undiagnosed in children for years. Many kids suffer in silence because they can’t always control their thoughts and behaviors. If OCD develops while a child is in elementary school, they will do a lot to conceal their rituals so no one discovers their secret.

You may think of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as something that happens mostly with adults, but nearly 1 in 200 kids and teens have OCD. Following the example given by the OC Foundation , a K-5 elementary school with 300 children could have at least one or two kids with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. These kids may or may not be diagnosed at that age, depending on their symptoms and how they are addressed.

Mental health disorders can be tricky to diagnose in children sometimes. Symptoms don’t always appear the same as they do with adults. Also, it’s important to consider that they are always growing and maturing. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure symptoms appear as a pattern. Just having one sign of OCD could be explained by a stage of development.

If you are concerned about your child or another child you know, the OCD section at  has an long but excellent article describing the condition. This page highlights possible symptoms of  obsessive-compulsive disorder in children and teens. Be sure to read the entire 5-page article to get a better understanding of this condition.

These is another thorough resource for parents if children with OCD. The main page shows a long list of helpful articles with highlighted links that lead to more resources. Topics range from diagnosis to treatment to managing school issues. The bottom of the page has links to several books.

Parents of kids with OCD need help and support, too. This website lists several online groups as well as a few in-person support organizations. NAMI is a mental illness support organization that has groups in many communities across the U.S. Anyone who is a family member of someone with a mental illness can join and be part of a unique support community. To find your local NAMI affiliate group, search for your state on this NAMI web page.

Despite the serious nature of OCD, many people learn how to manage and even overcome their symptoms in time. Your child’s life doesn’t have to be defined by OCD. The websites listed here offer a lot of solutions and an abundance of hope. If you want more information about OCD, please don’t hesitate to check out these resources. Get in touch with someone to ask more questions if necessary.

If you have any personal stories of recovery or other messages of support, please add your comment below. Questions are great, too. I’m not a specialist in OCD by any means, but I’ll do what I can to find good solid information if you need help.

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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Kids and Teens

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2019). Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Kids and Teens. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 24, 2020, from


Last updated: 27 Mar 2019
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