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Helping Teens Struggling with OCD: What Can Parents Do?

Helping Teens Struggling with OCD: What Can Parents Do?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a much-discussed psychological disorder that, despite its strong and easily identifiable name value, is often misunderstood. 

One percent of the population is afflicted with OCD; a condition in which they obsess to an unhealthy degree over certain things or matters in life, then carry out compulsions (repetitive behaviors that they can’t seem to control) to relieve anxieties associated with the core obsession. They may try to wash, check, or clean away their obsessions.

As this condition tends to develop in early adolescence, OCD is a disorder that can and does affect the teen population. So with that in mind, here are some ideas to aid in the treatment and assistance of an OCD teen:

  1. Understand OCD—and, for that matter, your OCD teen. It may be frustrating or even angering to see your teen engage in the same repetitive behaviors ad nauseum; to the point that they may be disrupting the family’s daily activities and even the peace and happiness of the household as a whole. Yet as Teen Mental Health.Org reports, OCD is a disorder that originates in the brain and tends to stem from genetic and environmental factors.
  2. Don’t mock your teen or their condition. It is common for people to tend to mock and minimalize the condition. They might, for example, clean a piece of furniture and make a glib joke about their Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder taking over; when, in fact, they do not at all suffer from the disorder. What they see as a casual joke might be taken as an offensive jab to an actual OCD patient; one who may feel imprisoned or even disabled by their symptoms. It’s always important to show empathy to your OCD teen, never mocking or belittling their situation.
  3. Be sure to notify your teen’s teachers about their OCD condition. OCD doesn’t take vacations and is likely to afflict your teen both in the home and at school. Your teen’s teachers need to understand that, if they exhibit repetitive or obsessive behavior that disrupts the learning process, it is the fault of their condition. This knowledge will empower them to help your teen, while also educating their classmates about what they might perceive as weird or out of place behavior.
  4. Be there—and be positive. You’ll always be available to talk to your OCD teen and listen to their problems—all the while offering compliments and positive reinforcement that will help them counter negative or obsessive notions.
  5. Don’t give up on them.  Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is in fact highly treatable. A full 40 percent of individuals with child-onset OCD will be cured by the time they are adults. Hope and help is available for those grappling with OCD; and by arming yourself to become your child’s ally, they are bound and destined to win.

ViewPoint Center Can Help

ViewPoint Center is a teen assessment center and mental health treatment program for young people ages 12-17 who struggle with behavioral and emotional challenges such as anxiety, depression, OCD, and suicidal ideation. For more information about ViewPoint Center, please call 801-825-5222 and one of our admissions team members can help you.