Tuesday, October 11, 2011

OCD in Children: Is Anxiety the New Normal?

A recent article done by CNN labeled "OCD in children: A darkness has overtaken me" looks at the growing trend of obsessive compulsive disorder occurring in children as early as 3 to 4 years of age. The article was published to help bring awareness for OCD awareness week (this week) and to bring recognition to the launch of the international OCD foundation kids OCD website today. The article looks at the stories of two young women suffering from this disease, Allisa who is 17 and Mystery who is 10 years old. Both girls have faced the hardships of the symptoms for OCD which are constant worry and anxiety to constantly do repetitive behaviors to rid their minds of unwanted thoughts. Allisa now 17 began at the age of 9 , to repetitively: turn the lights on/off, and wash her hands as well as avoid eating due to fear of food poisoning. Mystery who is now 10 began to wash her hands repetitively at the young age of 5. Both girls are under going treatment for this disorder yet in times of high stress the unwanted thoughts and repetitive behaviors begin to emerge. The article also has facts about OCD ( ex: 1 in 100 kids suffer from this disorder) from the OCD kids website and links to it as well. Reading this article had me reflect back to the book were currently reading "The Anxiety Cure" by Dr. Hart.

In his book "The Anxiety Cure" Dr. Hart states that anxiety is the number one emotional disorder in our society. He then indicates that anxiety is a disease of stress. Also within his book he identifies obsessive compulsive disorder as a common anxiety problem facing men and women today. One of the reasons he gives for anxiety disorders/problems being so prevalent in our society is due to our fast paced living, and our innate drive to seek perfection. Just like a person suffering from OCD we as "healthy" individuals strive to accomplish certain goals that just seem to be increasing in quantity just like the repetitiveness of the tasks that plague those with OCD. This type of high stress life is what Dr. Hart equates as the "American Way" he says that being over worked, and over stressed is the new normal. Yet this increased stress depletes our brains neurotransmitters or as Dr. Hart calles them our "happy messengers" and this decrease in organic tranqualizers leaves us more vunerable to anxiety disorders most specifically panic attacks. Dr. Hart encourages us a humans and especially those of us who are believers in Christ (because as believers we are more prone to anxiety) to seek out tranquility in some part of our daily lives to help reduce this stress, to reduce our risk of developing a serious anxiety disorder.

After reading the article on CNN it really put Dr. Harts view of stress and anxiety in perspective. As Americans we are so driven to accomplish the highest goals and standards without questioning the tole it takes on us. This idea of be all you can be is ingrained in us from childhood, it is no wonder that we are seeing what used to be an almost non existent disorder now appearing in children as young as 3 years of age. I know that my parents have both been pushers for my education, my dad earned his PhD and is what I would consider a workaholic weather it be at his job all day or on our farm in the evenings, because it was a trait his father instilled in him, and its one that he has given to me as well. We both find it hard to simply sit still in the evenings and just shut our minds off, we have to be constantly at work doing one thing or the other. Even on vacation we are constantly on the go (due in part to my moms obsessive exercise driven nature) we never take the time to relax. Reading "The Anxiety Cure" has really given me insight into my own stress driven life, and actually confirmed my fears. To me getting a high school education while playing sports was normal, playing a college sport and taking a full class load was expected, and having the drive to go to graduate school and get a PhD has always been my goal. To me all of these wants and drives were and are still considered normal. Yet now I am seeing that maybe my goal driven self is actually the cause of my constant mind chatter filled with any and every kind of thought/ worry you can think of. To me ive always thought this was ok and just who I was, its only now after ive starting reading the Anxiety Cure that I see it as my foe. It makes me wonder though, how many other of my classmates are like this, how many other kids are learning to be stressed at young ages. Just take a look at youth athletic teams whatever the sport may be, and you'll see a coach benching kids for not playing well, and parents berating their children for not hustling. Its sad that the youth of america is growing up in the stress filled fast paced society , because the facts ( 1 in 100 kids with OCD) show that it is taking a tole on the mental health.


  1. I makes me so sad to see children have to deal with adult sized issues such as OCD. I feel like it robs them of being able to just be children, play in the mud, get dirty, eat play dough (ok, that last one may be a little extreme).

    I often wonder if many of these behaviors are modeled by their parents or other significant people in their lives who are caught up in this hurry sickened life.

    Very insightful and (sadly) relevant post. I just hate to see our hurried society start to affect our children.

  2. Wow. I had no idea that children as young as 3 and 4 were dealing with issues such as OCD. This is truly sad.

    However, I'm reminded that one solution to the anxiety problems we face today is adopting a more balanced, stress-less life ourselves. Although we can hope that society as a whole will start to slow down and balance out, we cannot wait for this to happen in order to live lives without anxiety. And unfortunately, I fear that the pace of our world will only increase in the coming years. We must learn to live balanced lives now in order to prevent greater anxiety in the future.

  3. It's sad that this faced-paced, stress induced way of living is expanding to younger children. It seems that the goal of today's society is see how much we can fit on our plates, how many goals we can reach in one day. My family likes to watch old movies and TV shows, and sometimes we watch Andy Griffin Show. Watching that shows almost seems like watching an alternate universe; everything was calm and peaceful, people did what they needed to do in a day and still had time to spend with their families. I just wonder what the health of America would look like if we would learn to slow down. The question is how to do that.

  4. How crazy is it that kids are developing OCD at such a young age. My room mate has OCD and it can be pretty annoying at times. I can't tell you how many papers I have lost because he unplugged my laptop out of fear it would catch the house on fire. It is no surprise to me that this condition probably started when he was a Child as he also has a completely irrational fear of potatoes that research has told me is another form of OCD. thank you for posting on this! You have filled my mind with new information


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