Mateo had “always been an anxious child” according to his mother, but over the past few months, Mateo had started “worrying about everything. He won’t leave the house until we check at least 5 times to make sure nothing is plugged in or left on. He’s afraid the house will burn down. It takes us 2-3 hours to get out the door for school in the morning because of all the rituals he has to go through. It’s becoming a real problem for our whole family,” mom stated with a heavy sigh.
Mateo agreed with his mother that he worried “too much” and often engaged in ritualistic behaviors to try to decrease his worries. “It usually doesn’t help much but I still feel like I have to do these things,” he told me, “I feel like if I don’t do them, something really bad will happen.”
After starting weekly cognitive behavioral therapy and eventually adding a little medication to help Mateo control his thoughts and behavior, he and his mother both reported significant improvements. He learned how to interrupt his obsessive thoughts while in therapy and also learned valuable tools to use to keep him from needing to engage in compulsive behaviors. His sleep improved and he started having a much easier time with social situations and his peers.
Facts About OCD in Childhood
Current estimates suggest that one in 100 children has OCD.
It is believed that lower serotonin levels in the brain can cause OCD to appear or become worse.
OCD is not curable but it is controllable.
Medication therapy and behavioral therapy are the most common treatments for OCD and are most effective when used together.
Close to 80% of children with OCD improve significantly with proper drug and behavioral treatment.
What WellPsyche Patients Are Saying
“Mia’s OCD had gotten so bad we were getting letters from the truancy board because of all the school she had missed. Some days we were 3 hours late, other days I couldn’t get her to school at all. She was convinced germs were everywhere and that she must wash her hands literally 100’s of times a day in order to avoid getting sick. We tried reasoning with her, ignoring it, punishing her, rewarding her… nothing worked. It was so hard to see her struggling so much and I knew she didn’t want to feel the way she did but I couldn’t seem to help her. By the time our pediatrician referred us to WellPsyche, Mia’s hands were so chapped and blistered from all the excessive washing, she was wearing gloves most days to try to protect them. Her therapist helped her learn triggers for her worries and helped her manage her thoughts in better ways. Medication really helped too. I don’t know which was more effective but I do know that she’s a much happier kid now and the skin on her hands is no longer falling off.”
Adeline, Mia's Mom
“I felt like if I didn’t have my room perfectly clean and my books all facing the right way that my parents would die. I know that doesn’t make sense but it’s true. And it wasn’t just that. I also thought if I didn’t count all of the mailboxes along our drive, we would have a car crash and if I didn’t blink every time I stepped on a crack, I would die. It was really awful. I learned in therapy how to stop these thoughts and think about other things instead. I’m really glad my therapist helped me.”
Talking Back to OCD: The Program That Helps Kids and Teens Say "No Way" - and Parents Say "Way to Go"by John S. March
What to Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming OCD (What-to-Do Guides for Kids)by Dawn Huebner, Bonnie Matthews
What to do when your Child has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Strategies and Solutionsby Aureen Pinto Wagner Ph.D.
The OCD Workbook for Kids: Skills to Help Children Manage Obsessive Thoughts and Compulsive Behaviorsby Anthony C. Puliafico, Joanna A. Robin
As a parent, you want the best for your children. You may be concerned or have questions about certain behaviors they exhibit and how to ensure they get help. We have provided some guidance and resources to get you started.