Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in Teens & Young Adults

Treatment for Relief of the Grip of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Imagine you have a constant, nagging worry that something terrible is going to happen. It’s like having an annoying song stuck in your head, but instead of a song, it’s a distressing thought that won’t go away. This thought makes you feel really anxious and uneasy, and it just keeps popping up over and over; these are obsessions that can take over your thoughts.

Then, you feel like you have to do certain things in a specific way or repeat certain actions to make this worry go away. It’s not because you want to, but because you believe that doing these things will prevent the terrible thing from happening. It’s as if your brain is telling you that if you don’t do these things, the feeling will never leave, or you might be putting yourself or others in danger.

For someone living with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), this is a day-to-day reality. It’s like having an internal alarm that won’t switch off, telling you something is wrong, even when you know it’s fine. It can be exhausting and overwhelming.

OCD isn’t just about being neat or liking things a certain way; it’s a challenging mental health condition that affects around 1 in every 100 people. It often starts in the teens or early adulthood, and yes, even kids can find themselves facing these overwhelming thoughts and rituals.

Common Types of OCD Compulsions in Teens & Young Adults

Obsessions – unwanted intrusive thoughts.

  • Constant, irrational worry about dirt, germs, or contamination.
  • Excessive concern with order, arrangement, or symmetry.
  • Fear that negative or aggressive thoughts or impulses will cause personal harm or harm to a loved one.
  • Preoccupation with losing or throwing away objects with little or no value.
  • Excessive concern about accidentally or purposefully injuring another person.
  • Feeling overly responsible for the safety of others.
  • Uncomfortable religious and sexual thoughts or images.
  • Doubting that is irrational or excessive.

Compulsions – ritualistic behaviors and routines to ease anxiety or distress.

  • Cleaning: Repeatedly washing one’s hands, bathing, or cleaning household items, often for hours at a time.
  • Checking: Checking and re-checking several to hundreds of times a day that the doors are locked, the stove is turned off, the hairdryer is unplugged, etc.
  • Repeating: Inability to stop repeating a name, phrase, or simple activity (such as going through a doorway over and over).
  • Hoarding: Difficulty throwing away useless items such as old newspapers or magazines, bottle caps, or rubber bands.
  • Touching and arranging: 
  • Mental rituals: Endless reviewing of conversations, counting, repetitively calling up “good” thoughts to neutralize “bad” thoughts or obsessions, or excessive praying and using special words or phrases to neutralize obsessions.

Teens with OCD often feel embarrassed or ashamed of these thoughts and behaviors, and they might try to hide them from others – even their parents.

And too many people walk this path silently, weighed down by feelings of shame or just the exhaustion of keeping those rituals secret.

Here’s what’s important: OCD is not a choice or a simple habit but a challenging condition that deserves care, support, and understanding, and most importantly, knowing that it can be managed. There’s no need to feel embarrassed about reaching out. Finding the right support can make a world of difference, offering ways to quiet those intrusive thoughts and reduce the need for compulsive actions. It’s all about reclaiming your thoughts, your routines, and your life from OCD’s grasp. Let’s start a conversation about your experiences and work together to find the path forward.

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