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Symptoms of OCD in Children and Adolescents

UPMC Content 2

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

Obsessions​

A child or adolescent with obsessions may:

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

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

Learn more about common pediatric obsessions.

Compulsions

Does your child or adolescent:

  • Repeatedly ask the same questions
  • Have problems following routines, like getting for school or bed
  • Excessively clean
  • Demand that you prepare food or fold laundry in a certain way

Compulsions are repeated behaviors that relieve distress caused by obsessions.

Learn more about common pediatric compulsions.

OCD Symptoms Following a Strep Infection

Some children 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. However, they start soon after a strep infection.

Researchers are trying to find the best way to diagnose and treat PANDAS. Infectious disease experts recommend treating strep infections with antibiotics and treating OCD symptoms and tics with standard treatment for OCD and tics.

Repeated streptococcal infections need to be treated appropriately. If your child has a fever and sore throat, ask your pediatrician to take a throat culture to check for strep.

Make an Appointment with the Pediatric OCD Program

To a schedule an evaluation of your child's symptoms, or to discuss OCD treatment options, call 412-235-5354.​​​

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