Young People

Our OCD Youth website is especially for young people, their parents and teachers. On this site you can download information and resources, join online forums and meet other young people with OCD.

OCD can affect children, adolescents and adults. At least half of the adults who get help for OCD already had it as children, but many of these people did not get help when they were younger. This might be because they were embarrassed about it, and did not tell anyone, or because doctors they asked for help did not know how to diagnose or treat OCD. It seems likely that if the illness is ‘caught’ and treated when people are young, they will suffer less in later life. Recent studies show that OCD may affect 1% of young people; that means if there are 500 children in a school, there could be 5 who have OCD.

Problems with obsessions and compulsions can cause distress and worry, and can begin to affect young people at school, with their friends and in their families. Many children have mild obsessions and compulsions at some time, for example having to organise their toys in a special way or saying good night a certain number of times. This is not OCD. So, parents might ask “What might be the signs that a young person’s rituals are the beginning of OCD?”.

To begin to answer this question, assess these three things:

  1. Are the rituals upsetting?
  2. Do they take up a lot of time (more than one hour per day)?
  3. Do they interfere with everyday life (eg, school, friends, etc)?

If the answer to these questions is ‘Yes’, it may be that the young person has OCD. At this point it is time to get some advice from a professional. OCD is a recognised, treatable problem. If you have questions our helpline team will be happy to help. You can contact them on 0845 3906232