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Could obsessive-compulsive symptoms in children signal psychological issues beyond OCD?
There are some behaviors in children that mirror obsessions and compulsions, but are completely normal. But when do ritualistic and repetitive behaviors signal something more?
A recent study conducted by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania reported surprising findings on the topic. They suggested that children with obsessive-compulsive symptoms were more likely to experience depression and suicidal thoughts.
Researchers looked at over 7,000 participants aged 11-21. They divvied up the symptoms into four categories: bad thoughts, repeating & checking, symmetry, and cleaning & contamination. The participants that admitted to having intrusive thoughts were more likely to develop a serious disorder beyond obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
The lead author of the study noted that,
Repetitive actions are common in young children, and are in fact a healthy part of development… [but] it's when these symptoms continue into adolescence and start to interfere with day-to-day activities that we really need to examine the cause and treatments available.
Additionally, the study’s principal investigator emphasized,
Our hope is that these results will propel both mental health professionals and non-mental health practitioners, such as pediatricians, to probe for these symptoms during their patients' visits… these symptoms may be vital for identifying adolescents who are on a potentially debilitating psychiatric trajectory.
We cover more groundbreaking research related to OCD in our in-depth original series with world-renowned OCD expert Dr. Jenny Yip - check it out here on MedCircle.com.
I’m Kyle Kittleson, and remember, whatever you’re going through - you got this.
This content is intended for informational purposes only. It should not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you have a medical emergency, call 911 or your doctor immediately.