For Families > Disorders and Treatments > A-Z Disorder Guide > Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

When and How Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is Treated

Signs and Symptoms

The hallmark symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder are:

  • Repeated purposeless or ritualistic behaviors, such as checking and washing (compulsions)
  • Repeated unwanted thoughts or images (obsessions)

When to Seek Professional Help

You should seek professional help and guidance when the child:

  • is unable to control his/her thoughts or behavior
  • is overly concerned with germs or dirt
  • needs things to be ordered or arranged in certain ways
  • checks windows, doors, lockers
  • washes hands excessively
  • lines up toys or possessions in particular ways
  • gets upset if interrupted
  • erases excessively when writing or rereads sentences over and over
  • seeks multiple reassurances from others

How Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is Treated

A number of treatment methods have proven effective. These include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which may be used in conjunction with CBT

The Risks of Not Treating a Child with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

A child with undetected or untreated obsessive-compulsive disorder is at risk for:

  • Difficulty completing homework or other academic work due to focus on getting things perfect
  • Symptoms that are severe and time consuming may affect self-esteem, friendships, and family functioning
  • Depression, social isolation and anger due to feelings of loss of control

More Information

For more information and a list of related articles, visit the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder page of our A-Z Disorder Guide.