Symptoms of OCD in Children and Adolescents

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by obsessions and/or compulsions.


Does your child or adolescent:

  • Tell you he is having thoughts or pictures in his head that he can't get rid of?
  • Answer "I just have to" when asked about why she is behaving certain ways?
  • Excessively complain about clothing or shoes not fitting or matching "just right"?

If yes, your child or adolescent may be experiencing obsessions.

Obsessions are recurrent, uncontrollable, and intrusive thoughts, impulses, or images that cause marked anxiety or distress.

Read more about common pediatric obsessions.


Does your child or adolescent:

  • Repeatedly ask you the same questions?
  • Have problems following a certain routine, like getting to school on time or going to bed?
  • Excessively clean, or demand that you prepare food or fold laundry in a certain way?

If yes, your child or adolescent may be engaging in compulsions.

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or actions that relieve distress generated by obsessions.

Read more about common pediatric compulsions.

OCD Symptoms Following a Strep Infection

Some children may develop OCD symptoms and tics after a strep infection, such as strep throat. This is known as pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infection, or PANDAS.

Symptoms can look very similar to typical OCD symptoms, but seem to start very abruptly, shortly following a strep infection.

There is much ongoing research to try to determine the best way to diagnose and treat PANDAS. At this time, infectious disease experts recommend treating acute strep infections with antibiotics and treating OCD symptoms and tics with standard treatment for OCD and tics.

Recurrent streptococcal infections need to be evaluated and managed appropriately. If your child has a fever and sore throat, we encourage you to ask your pediatrician to take a throat culture to check for strep.

If you have further questions about PANDAS, or want to have your child evaluated at the PANDAS clinic at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, call 412-692-5638.

Make an Appointment with the Pediatric OCD Program

To a schedule an evaluation of your child's symptoms to see if they meet the criteria for an OCD diagnosis, or to discuss OCD treatment options, call 412-235-5354.

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