Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD in children under 5 years of age can become a full-blown condition, but without causing much hindrance in their daily activities. Research suggests that young children may have compulsions only, without the obsessions.
OCD in Children under 5 Symptoms
Symptoms of OCD differ in toddlers from those seen in young children.
- During playtime, toddlers will rigidly group their toys in a specific sequence and become upset if they are disrupted while doing so.
- Counting excessively
- Repetition is a common sign that refers to toddlers feeling compelled to repeat words or sounds that they encounter. They are also more likely to be asking a question over and over again, as they hope to hear the same response.
- Early onset of fear or worry is shown through protectiveness of a loved one like a parent or sibling. As they grow old, OCD would manifest in hygiene habits.
- Children with OCD may suffer from headache or stomach ache, due to the stress caused by the anxieties.
- Poor sleeping habits due to irrational fears can also be a sign.
OCD in Children Symptoms
- Children are predisposed to wash their hands excessively, which is a common OCD-like behavior. Getting dressed takes a longer time to do as well.
- The beginning of OCD for some children is manifested through collecting unusual objects. They get fixated in hoarding, becoming agitated if parents request them to throw anything in the trash bin.
- Counting is yet another fixation. Children will find themselves counting the number of steps from their room to the bathroom, making sure they always get it right.
- The practice of repetitive erasures in their homework can become a habit as they feel the need to get the numbers or drawings right.
- A generalized fear over anything may be noticeable from a child who has symptoms of OCD. Common concerns would be unfinished tasks and anxieties over germs.
What Causes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Children
- Scientists haven’t found supportive studies saying that genetics has something to do with OCD. There is a strong belief though, that children are more prone to OCD because they can inherit the abnormal structures in the brain from parents or other family members.
- Biochemical abnormalities in the brain bring about OCD, with the lack of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter in the body.
- Infections from serious diseases can increase the risk of OCD in children, though there is no conclusive report on this.