In Australia, anxiety disorders are common. One in 25 teenagers (13-17 years old) experiences anxiety disorders in any given year.

Anxiety is not the same as depression, although the two conditions share many causes and some symptoms often occur together. There are six main types of anxiety disorders, including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Many people feel anxious sometimes and these anxious thoughts can often influence the things we do. For example, the thought “I think I left the iron on” can lead to us returning home to make sure that it’s turned off.

Usually, these thoughts happen only occasionally and can be helpful reminders. However, if these thoughts happen regularly, again and again, it can cause difficulties.

People who have OCD often feel like they have to carry out certain behaviours (e.g. cleaning things that are already clean) over and over in order to feel OK and reduce their anxious feelings.

These behaviours usually provide only temporary relief. But if people with OCD don’t carry out these behaviour patterns or rituals, they often think that bad things will happen to them.

While OCD is relatively rare in young people, it can be serious and requires treatment by a health professional.

What are the signs and symptoms of OCD?

People may have OCD if they have a lot of unwanted intrusive thoughts or strong urges to do certain things. Some examples of signs of OCD include:

  • obsessive hand washing because the person is scared of germs

    counting things for no apparent reason, and

  • constantly checking that doors are locked etc.

Getting Help

A General Practitioner or counsellor can help. OCD is treatable and talking to someone about it is the first step towards getting better. Treatment will help a person with OCD to control the strong compulsive feelings that lead to the repetitive behaviour.

Your doctor may offer you some information to read or put you in touch with someone who specialises in the treatment of anxiety disorders or refer you to a psychologist covered by Medicare.

Where can I get more information?

youthbeyondblue  or  1300 22 4636
Kids Help Line  or 1800 55 1800  
Anxiety Network Australia

Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha
Source: Youthbeyondblue