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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in kids

 OCD in kids 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) emerged as one of the top three most common disorders in the Singapore Mental Health Study conducted by IMH in 2010. The study found that one in 33 adults in Singapore has had OCD at some point in his or her lifetime. However, the condition is not restricted to adults – it can affect children and teenagers too. IMH Child Guidance Clinics see between 100 and 200 children and adolescents with OCD a year.

OCD is a psychiatric disorder with strong biological underpinnings that causes problems in information processing. This results in recurring anxiety-provoking intrusive thoughts and images (obsessions) which cause the person to engage in repeated behaviours or mental rituals (compulsions) to alleviate the anxiety and discomfort. For example, someone with a cleanliness compulsion may wash their hands far more often than someone without OCD and not just in between meals or when their hands are soiled. Sometimes, they may avoid touching items they deem as dirty such as door knobs, lift buttons and taps and engage in extensive and excessive rituals
to ensure cleanliness, such as using hand-sanitisers excessively, washing their clothes separately, or repeatedly checking the clothes to see if they are soiled.

In children, OCD symptoms easily go undetected, resulting in delay in seeking treatment. Children are often unable to verbalise their intrusive thoughts or understand that their actions do not make sense. They may also be secretive or feel ashamed of their behaviour. Parents and caregivers, too, delay seeking treatment as they may feel that the child’s rituals and behaviours are just a phase of growing up. OCD can be successfully treated and evidence shows that the sooner it is tackled, the better the treatment outcomes
are likely to be.

OCD in kids info table 

If you know of a child struggling with symptoms of OCD, speak to the child’s school counsellor or make an appointment with the Child Guidance Clinic at Tel: 6389 2200. 

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