OCD in Teens: How to Recognize and Help

OCD in Teens: How to Recognize and Help

If you have a teenager, there’s a good chance you’ve already noticed some of the common symptoms of OCD. Obsessive-compulsive disorder can affect anyone at any age, but it often starts in the teenage years. If you’re not sure what to look for, or if you need help getting your teen the treatment they need, read on! In this blog post, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of OCD in teens, as well as how to get them the help they need.

OCD In Teens

OCD In TeensOCD is defined as an anxiety disorder characterized by repetitive, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that lead to compulsions (repetitive behaviors or mental acts), according to the National Institute of Mental Health. In simple words, OCD refers to obsessive-compulsive disorder.

This mental disorder usually begins in adolescence or early adulthood, with symptoms typically starting to appear around the age of ten. However, there are some cases where OCD develops later in life.

Obsessions are defined as recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced as intrusive and unwanted. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that a person feels compelled to perform to relieve the anxiety and distress caused by the obsessions.

According to studies, OCD has become more prevalent in recent years, affecting approximately one in every 200 teenagers. The condition is equally common among boys and girls. In the DSM-5, which is the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, OCD is categorized as one of the anxiety disorders.

So, overall OCD in teens is also common and can be caused by different things. If you or someone you know is displaying signs of OCD, it is important to seek professional help.

Signs Of OCD In Teenagers

The signs and symptoms of OCD in teens seem like a normal part of adolescence. It can be hard to tell when a child is going through the usual ups and downs of adolescence or if they’re experiencing something more. The following are some signs that may indicate your teen has OCD:

Preoccupied with certain things

This symptom is one of the common signs of OCD in teenagers. A preoccupation can be with a hobby, school work, or even a relationship. For example, a teen with OCD might spend hours on the same project or obsess over getting a good grade. On the other hand, it can also be something more harmful, such as an obsession with their body image or a fear of germs.

Excessive perfectionism

Teens with OCD often have extremely high standards for themselves and others. They may be perfectionists or overachievers who strive for excellence in everything they do. This can lead to a lot of pressure and stress, which can worsen OCD symptoms. For example, while most people might be able to let go of a small mistake, someone with OCD may obsess over it and feel the need to fix it.

Intrusive thoughts

This is one of the common and most distressing symptoms of OCD. It can include anything from thinking about harming yourself or someone else, to having intrusive sexual or religious thoughts. And this can be seen in teenagers as well. Because of the nature of these thoughts, it can be really hard for teens to talk about them, even with their parents or a therapist. For example, a teen may be afraid to tell their parents that they’re having thoughts about harming themselves, for fear that their parents will think they’re actually going to do it.

Excessive doubt and fear

Excessive doubt and fearDoubt and fear are a normal part of life. We all have moments when we’re not sure if we’re making the right decision, or when we’re worried about what might happen in the future. However, people with OCD tend to experience these doubts and fears more often, and they can be much harder to manage. For example, a teenager with OCD might be constantly worried that they will get sick, or that something bad will happen to their family.

OCD is a condition that can hinder your life in many ways. So, identify these symptoms if you or someone you know is dealing with OCD. This will enable you to get the person the right kind of help. There are many resources available to help you, so get started on the road to recovery today.

What Causes OCD In Teens?

OCD in teens is already a topic that is shrouded in mystery and misunderstanding. So what could be the possible causes of OCD in teens? Let’s discuss some of the most likely causes and risk factors.

Anxiety and stress

This is one of the popular and well-known causes of developed OCD in teens. Because of the increased pressure at school and in extracurricular activities, many teens suffer from anxiety and stress. This can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, one of which could be the development of OCD. It is believed that when a person is under a lot of stress, their brain looks for ways to cope and one of those ways is to develop OCD.


Another possible cause of OCD in teens is trauma. This could be either a one-time event, like a car accident, or ongoing trauma, such as witnessing violence at home. If your teen has experienced any kind of trauma, it’s important to get them help from a mental health professional. untreated trauma can lead to several mental health problems, including OCD. This is, in fact, one of the most common causes of OCD in teens. Because a teenager’s life is not that stable to start with, any kind of trauma can be a trigger for OCD.

Brain structure

This is not to say that OCD is caused by a problem in the structure of the brain, but rather that certain regions of the brain may be more implicated than others. For example, the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is an area of the brain that has been linked to OCD. This region is responsible for, among other things, impulsive and compulsive behaviors.


Genetic factors seem common in mental disorders. The main reason is that they are passed down from family members. Studies show that mental disorders run in families. If you have a parent or grandparent with OCD, you may be more likely to develop the disorder. However, this also doesn’t mean that you will get OCD if a family member has it.

Hormonal imbalance

Hormonal imbalanceIn teenagers, this tends to be chalked up to “hormones” and while that is partially true, there is more to it. A chemical imbalance in the brain can cause OCD. This chemical imbalance may be due to genetics, which means it can be passed down in families. However, some other hormones might create this imbalance as well.

So, these are some common causes that might be responsible for developing OCD in teenagers. If you think that your teen might be suffering from OCD, then the best thing you can do is to take them to see a mental health professional. They will be able to assess the situation and provide the appropriate treatment.

Negative Consequences In Everyday Life

This is widely recognized as one of the most difficult aspects of living with OCD. The constant preoccupation with obsessions and compulsions can take up so much time and energy that it’s difficult to focus on anything else. Some common negative impacts that OCD can have on teenagers’ life are:

  • Poor school performance
  • Problems with friends and socializing
  • Difficulty maintaining a job
  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Other comorbid conditions

These things are basic and essential to a teenager’s life, and when OCD gets in the way it can be extremely detrimental. Also, each impact can feed into the others, creating a vicious cycle. For example, if a teenager with OCD is doing poorly in school, they may start to feel isolated from their peers and withdraw even further.

This can then lead to more problems with schoolwork, and so on. It’s important to be aware of these potential consequences so that you can help your teenager manage their OCD and prevent these negative impacts on their life.

There are many ways to help a teenager with OCD, but one of the most important things you can do is educate yourself about the disorder. The more you know about OCD, the better equipped you’ll be to help your teenager.

Helpful Tips To Cope OCD In Teens

Helpful Tips To Cope OCD In TeensCoping with OCD in teens seems daunting, but there are ways to make it manageable. Here are some tips:

Educate yourself about OCD

This is the primary step in coping with OCD because OCD can manifest in different types, so you have to be aware of the different types to better understand your condition. Reading books, articles, and other materials about OCD will help you learn more about the disorder. You should understand that OCD is a real mental health condition that should be treated and not something you can just snap out of.

More often, people with OCD tend to have higher levels of education and intelligence. This is because they can understand their thoughts better and can also find ways to better cope with their condition.

Talk to someone who understands OCD

If you are a teen and you have OCD, it can be difficult to talk to your parents or guardians about it because they might not understand what you’re going through. Sharing your feelings with someone who understands OCD can be very helpful. You can find support groups for teens with OCD or see a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.

You can also try journals, this can be a good way to get your thoughts and feelings out. Sometimes it can be helpful to see them written down. There are no such techniques to write, but some people find it helpful to start each sentence with “I need to…” or “I want to…”. It is important to remember that you are not alone in this and there are people who can help you.

Challenge your thoughts

In OCD, obsessions and compulsions are usually related. For example, if you’re obsessed with germs, you may wash your hands over and over. If you’re worried you left the oven on, you may check it dozens of times. The first step in treatment is to challenge your thoughts. That means learning to question the beliefs that fuel your OCD.

You may be asked to do some of the things that make you anxious — such as touching a doorknob — as part of your treatment. This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s an important part of therapy. The goal is to help you see that your fears are exaggerated and that you can handle the anxiety.

Do relaxation techniques

Do relaxation techniquesIt is believed that relaxation techniques can help to lower the levels of anxiety in people who suffer from OCD. This, in turn, can help to reduce the compulsions and obsessions that are associated with the disorder. Several different relaxation techniques can be used, and it may be necessary to try out a few different ones before finding one that works best.

Some people find that deep breathing exercises help reduce anxiety levels. Others find relief through guided imagery or progressive muscle relaxation. There are also many helpful books and videos available that can teach different relaxation techniques.

A healthy lifestyle

This is important for everyone, but especially for teens with OCD. A nutritious diet and regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve mood and energy levels. Avoiding drug and alcohol use is also important, as these substances can worsen OCD symptoms. Moreover, there are several things that you should include in a healthy lifestyle for teens with OCD:

Eating a healthy diet is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for people with OCD. A nutritious diet can help reduce stress and improve mood and energy levels. This will make it easier to manage OCD symptoms.

Seek professional help

This is very essential if you think that your teenager is dealing with OCD. A professional will be able to help your teenager understand their condition and work with them to develop healthy coping mechanisms. They will also be able to offer support and guidance to you as a parent.

There are many different types of treatment available for OCD, and the most effective one will be tailored to your teenager’s specific needs. Exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP) is one of the most common types of treatment for OCD. This type of therapy involves gradually exposing your teenager to their fears and anxiety-inducing situations while teaching them healthy coping mechanisms.

Consider medication

Consider medicationMedication may also be prescribed in some cases. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a type of antidepressant that is commonly used to treat OCD. SSRIs work by increasing levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood regulation.

If you think your teenager may be dealing with OCD, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible. With proper treatment, teens with OCD can go on to lead happy and successful lives.


Conclusively OCD in teens is simply defined as an anxiety disorder that is characterized by repetitive, unwanted, and intrusive thoughts called obsessions as well as behaviors the individual engages in to relieve the resulting anxiety called compulsions. There are many ways to help your teen if they are struggling with OCD. The most important thing you can do is educate yourself on the topic and learn about the different treatment options.

In this way, you or someone else can provide support and understanding, as well as get professional help when needed. If you think your teen may be struggling with OCD, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There are many resources available to both you and your teen, and treatment can make a big difference in their quality of life.

For more information and tips you can contact Therapy Mantra. We have a team of professional therapists who can provide you with the support and guidance you need to recover from this condition. Contact us today to learn more about our services. You can also book an online therapy or download our free OCD treatment app on Android or iOS.