OCD In Teens: Symptoms, Signs, And How To Treat It

OCD, short for obsessive-compulsive disorder, has been understood to be both a behavioral and mental disorder, wherein an individual starts to develop intrusive thoughts (Kids Health, 2023).

These obsessive thoughts, though illogical, cause immense anxiety in people affected by the condition to the point of creating compulsions to do things, which are either unnecessary or beyond imagination to commit.

Individuals with OCD generally get (and feel) stuck due to the various intrusive thoughts that occur in them, making them highly incapable of getting past these stressful cycles of thoughts and the resultant actions, where these become a part of their routine, also preventing them from engaging in the normal chores of their lives.

What Is OCD And How Does It Affect Teenagers?

OCD is highly common among teenagers and in that, a growing concern, given their obsessions over objects, persons, or trends (gadgets, drugs, etc.), and their compulsion to act on this obsessiveness even though they are aware of the fact that these obsessions and compulsions do not hold any logic sense.

OCD symptoms and treatment

Other than causing harm to themselves, they seldom realize the pain they cause others in the process, especially their parents, relatives, or community.

The adolescent stage is easily prone to the harms of OCD for the obsessive thoughts and compulsions that may prompt them to act in inappropriate ways, also ruining their self-esteem in the process (Krebs and Heyman, 2015).

In light of these concerns, it has been, therefore, decided to understand the signs and symptoms of OCD in this young adult population before determining the treatment that would effectively tackle such mental disorders in them.

Signs and Symptoms Of OCD In Adolescents

Noting that OCD is a significantly impairing condition for every individual, especially when he/she is a teenager, it is very important to look for signs and symptoms that denote the same, as stated above.

As per the authors, Kreb and Heyman (2015), the distressing symptoms accompanied by repetitive and intrusive thoughts are easily identified or diagnosed then and there in a teenager.

Since these actions are carried out as rituals, they tend to become more and more time-consuming. This being stated, some of the common signs and symptoms associated with OCD in young adults are found to include:

  • Excessive or exaggerated fear of contamination from people, clothes, shoes, etc.
  • Frequent concerns over the appearance of course assignments.
  • Worries about specific numbers regarding their unlucky indications, particularly in terms of roll numbers assigned for exams.

Treatment for OCD In Teens/Adolescents

Having listed out the signs and symptoms of OCD in teenagers, the best treatment options available to curb/control this disorder have included the following:

?Cognitive behavioral therapy

Evidence-based studies, as well as factors suggesting treatment resistance, have confided strongly with accepting adopting cognitive behavioral therapy for teenagers challenged by OCD (Krebs and Heyman, 2015).

Further, CBT encourages teenagers to identify their obsessive versus compulsive thoughts to help them avoid doing repetitive tasks as a result (NYU Langone Health, 2023).

? Medications

Though medications play a vital role in treating OCD in teenagers, a good number of adolescents diagnosed with the condition have attributed a combination treatment with both medicines and cognitive behavioral therapy to effectively minimize their obsessive-cum-compulsive thoughts and the actions emerging from such thinking processes.

This indeed suggests that one should not solely depend on medicines for this psychological condition.

Further, the knowledge that there lies significant risks of side effects with psychiatric medications, considering a combination therapy, such as cognitive behavioral or psychotherapy would be an added benefit (NYU Langone Health. 2023).

? Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP)

Known for its ability to prevent responses from frequent and annoying obsessive thoughts, ERP has been considered a highly reliable therapy, which through its therapeutic processes including psychoeducation, OCD exposure hierarchy, exposure and response prevention, and handling/tackling mental compulsions, can effectively and efficiently reduce obsessive thoughts in individuals (Therapist Aid, 2023).

This statement naturally instills the impression that ERP will significantly (and definitely) benefit teenagers diagnosed with OCD. Nevertheless, further studies are indicated to reinforce or affirm the success of this therapy.

However, there remains no doubt regarding the fact that ERP can potentially prevent individuals with OCD to indulge in obsessive and compulsive thoughts and actions by encouraging them to possess deviating thoughts, thereby nullifying the impending harm they may induce on themselves or others.

Read More:- Best Strategy For Controlling Anger In Teens: A Guide For Parents


For all things discussed above, it could be concluded that OCD as a mental disorder should not be neglected, especially when individuals with this condition are displaying both obsessive and compulsive tendencies that are likely to result in harming themselves and others.

Aggressive cases of such are prone to be treated with medications other than providing relevant psychotherapies like CBT or ERP, where the latter prove fruitless.

About the Author

Nicole Carter is a dedicated and passionate nutritionist, committed to helping individuals achieve their health and wellness goals through the power of proper nutrition. With a Bachelor's degree in Nutritional Science and years of practical experience.

Leave a Comment