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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Practicing OCD

07/12/2006

Question:

My 10 year old daughter has OCD and she often insists things be washed that she thinks are contaminated in some way. Depending on how upset she gets, I just do whatever it takes to get her to forget about the problem, no matter how ridiculous or how much time it wastes. Lately, I`ve been making her do the extra washing, spraying, cleaning, etc. It obviously isn`t helping her by having her do the work. My husband thinks we should refuse to do unreasonable requests for her because it encourages her and if she has to spend her own time, she`ll get over this. All I see happening is that she gets even more upset over stupid stuff.

Answer:

These are important issues to discuss with your daughter's physician and/or therapist.  I am hoping that your daughter, and your family, are getting some regular therapy.  If not, I strongly encourage you to do so.  OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is a specific type of anxiety disorder where a brain chemical imbalance leads to increased anxiety for sufferers.  People with OCD find that obsessions (repetitive thoughts) or compulsions (repetitive actions) help to decrease the severe anxiety they are feeling.  It is highly unlikely that making your daughter spend her own time on the obsessions or compulsions will make her "get over this."  The OCD actions help a person live with their extreme anxiety, and until the underlying problem is treated, the compulsions tend to persist.

Medications are highly effective in OCD, as are various forms of therapy.  I encourage to seek guidance from a trained professional (because of your daughter's age, I would recommend a child psychiatrist) if you are not already doing so.

Good Luck.

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Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati