Last updated: 4 January 2021
What is OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is when the child or young person continues to have recurrent obsessional thoughts and compulsions, or both.
OCD does not just mean that people like to wash their hands regularly and be tidy. It is a serious condition that often makes everyday life extremely hard to cope with.
For example, a child or young person may have constant unwelcomed thoughts that their parents might suddenly die. They might repeat special ritualistic words out loud several times, convinced that this will stop it from happening.
Children and young people living with OCD can feel very anxious, lonely and isolated. The obsessive thoughts are sometimes very disturbing, and it can leave them feeling shameful and out of control. The compulsions can also take a long time to complete and it can be seen as strange by others. It is important to support children and young people with OCD in managing the disorder and preventing serious problems in their mental health.
Causes of OCD
The specific cause of OCD is not known. It is likely due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. These are some risk factors to consider:
Runs in families
Physical, sexual or emotional abuse
During and after pregnancy (e.g. unwanted thoughts of hurting the baby)
Existing learning disorders