Hudson Valley Parent

HVP March 2019

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18 Hudson Valley Parent n March 2019 OCD in children According to Stanford Children's Heath, currently about 1 in 200 children and adolescents suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder. A child's OCD diagnosis typically affects not only the afflicted child, but also parents, family members and school faculty. Jessica Westover of Highland knows now that her 14-year-old daughter first exhibited signs of OCD at the age of 4, but she admits she did not recognize it at the time. "Her OCD at that point was confessional or "bad thought" OCD, where she constantly confessed worries that she had done something wrong, even when she had not," explains Westover. "This eventually faded, only to be replaced with other OCD behaviors. For example, in first grade she was convinced that if she didn't have a Chapstick, her lips would bleed. She'd have a panic attack if her Chapstick went missing." By fifth grade, Westover's daughter was struggling with a debilitating case of emetophobia, an overwhelming fear of vomiting. This fear manifested as compulsions such as constantly asking questions about the possibility of becoming sick, refusing to eat past 7pm, By JILL VALENTINO S heldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory. Adrian Monk of Monk. The Odd Couple's Felix Unger. For many folks, with the mention of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), these well-known, quirky fictional characters come to mind. However, for those afflicted, OCD is anything but quirky. Conversely, when left untreated, OCD can be a debilitating struggle. What is OCD? Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by the presence of frequent obsessions and compulsions to such an extent that they take up an inordinate amount of a person's waking hours and interfere with daily activities. The two major components of OCD are obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are defined as continuously occurring thoughts, feelings, and fears outside of a person's control. Compulsions manifest as a result of an OCD sufferer's all-consuming obsessions and are defined as repetitious behaviors or thoughts a person feels they "must" do. Those with OCD feel forced to engage in compulsions or rituals in order to reduce their anxiety. and even avoiding words pertaining to the act of vomiting. Take note of red flags When OCD occurs in childhood, there is a high likelihood of co- occurrence with other disorders. Some common coexisting disorders include tic disorders, ADHD, and anxiety disorders. Katie Bowman of New Paltz is currently in the process of getting her preschool-aged son, who currently has an anxiety diagnosis, tested for OCD. "It may well be that his obsessive-compulsive behaviors are a part of his anxiety," says Bowman, "but there's that fine line that can separate anxiety from anxiety with OCD, which is what we're potentially exploring." Bowman references behavioral red flags her son has displayed both at school and at home that may be indicative of OCD. "At home," says Bowman, "he will ask the same question to the point of it only being for the reassurance of the familiarity of the question- answer routine, sometimes upward of two dozen times. He seems to use that as a way to soothe himself." How to treat OCD While there is no cure for OCD, it can be effectively treated. Besides employing Jessica Westover (right) says her daughter has really benefited from exposure and response prevention therapy. This forces her daughter to face her fears and work through the anxieties they cause. Does your child have OCD? Learn the symptoms and how to help your child

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