Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Teens and Young Adults

Teen and young adult OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a mental illness characterized by unrelenting upsetting thoughts (or obsessions) which cause them to perform certain behaviors (the compulsions.) Over time, OCD can become disruptive in multiple areas of a teen or young adult’s life, preventing them from being able to function healthily.

The defining characteristic of OCD is that teens and young adults experience consistent irritating thoughts which they believe can only be alleviated and/or “reversed” by performing a certain behavior. This creates a strong cause-and-effect cycle that teens and young adults essentially become stuck inside, especially since the ritualistic behaviors they perform are often unenjoyable, yet teen and young adults experiencing these symptoms nonetheless feel compelled to do them.

While the specific obsessions and compulsions can differ according to the teen or young adult, some of the common symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder include: repetitive behaviors that are intrusive or inappropriate; thoughts and behaviors regarding cleanliness or order; thoughts and behaviors concerning hoarding or spending; thoughts surrounding morality or religion, thoughts pertaining to some form of harm; thoughts surrounding sex; and unexplained repetitive behaviors such as hand-washing, counting, touching, or locking doors, which are not connected to any known, conscious thought.

While everyone experiences repetitive thoughts and behaviors to some degree, teens and young adults with OCD experience these things to such a degree that it causes them considerable unrest and disrupts areas of their lives, such as their ability to perform well in school; to maintain relationships; and/or to behave appropriately in social contexts. One of the challenges for teens and young adults with OCD is even in instances where they are aware of the negative aspects of the behaviors, they’re still unable to change or control them. In some cases, this may cause them to try to hide the behaviors and/or to withdraw from others, in order to avoid judgment.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatment

Paradigm Treatment specializes in providing teen and young adult-focused Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatment that is designed according to the individual’s unique needs, symptoms, goals, and interests. In this sense, no Paradigm treatment plan is just alike another.

In general, the way we approach OCD is designed according to the client’s compulsions and behaviors; what kinds of underlying stressors and/or experiences may be aggravating the condition; how the condition is affecting other areas of their lives; and other supplemental support, to contribute toward strengthening and benefiting the teen or young adult’s whole life. To this end, our treatment strategies usually combine both traditional and progressive strategies, which address the mental and behavioral aspects of the illness.

From the mental and emotional standpoint, our therapists work with clients to help them identify the nature of their obsessions, how those thoughts get triggered, and how the relationship to the behavior plays out. For instance, it’s helpful for teens and young adults to identify what kinds of thoughts trigger the obsession which then lead to a feeling, which causes them to perform the behavior. We not only want to support teens and young adults to recognize these patterns but to also explore and process any deeper emotional underpinnings, which might be the source of tension for their current cycles.

On the behavioral level, teen and young adult Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatment helps clients to become more empowered to resist urges and to function healthily in their lives. Sometimes, this means incorporating techniques that help teens and young adults cope with stress or calm their minds, so they can feel more in control of themselves. We also might work with clients to help them incorporate new, healthy behaviors which can become positive forces in their lives.


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