8 top OCD symptoms in teens
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8 top OCD symptoms in teens


Obsessive-compulsive disorder, also known as OCD, is a type of anxiety disorder that affects about 1 in 100 adults. However, it often presents itself in children aged 8 to 12 and in young adults, like teenagers. About 1 out of every 200 kids and teens is diagnosed with OCD.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder can interfere with daily activities and inhibit quality of life — especially if left untreated. Early treatment for teenagers can help improve their quality of life. It’s a disorder that’s characterized by extremely uncomfortable thoughts or feelings. These feelings are caused by “obsessions” that can cause a person to act out “compulsions” to ease their discomfort.


If you’re not quite familiar with OCD and its symptoms in teenagers, you can find out more by reading about the symptoms of both obsessions and compulsions below.


What are some of the most common OCD symptoms in teens?


OCD is composed of obsessions and compulsions. The symptoms of OCD can vary depending on the person and the type of OCD the teenager has. But they can also depend on whether someone is experiencing obsessions or compulsions, or both. Here are some of the most common types of obsessions: 


  • Distressing thoughts or anxiety about germs, contamination, or sickness — One common obsession that someone with OCD might experience is distress or anxiousness about coming into contact with germs, becoming contaminated, or getting sick.


  • Distressing thoughts or anxiety about harming oneself or others — Another obsession that people with OCD frequently experience is distressing thoughts or anxiousness about the possibility of harming themselves or another person.


  • Distress or anxiety relating to sexual thoughts — It’s not uncommon for people with OCD to experience obsessive thoughts about sexual incidents that may cause them significant unease or distress.


What are some more symptoms of OCD in teenagers?


Obsessions aren’t the only characteristics of OCD, however. The symptoms of this anxiety disorder can manifest in compulsions. In the context of OCD, a compulsion refers to an action that a person feels the urge to complete in response to an obsessive thought. The compulsion symptoms below, although not an exhaustive list, are typical of teens with obsessive-compulsive disorder:


  • Checking things more than normal — The symptoms of OCD in teenagers can involve compulsions like checking. An example of checking includes making sure that a door is locked multiple times. Another is needing to check to see if the oven or curling iron is off more than once.


  • Washing more than normal — Another example of a compulsion that someone with OCD might have is washing. This could look like washing hands excessively or taking excessive numbers of showers or baths.


  • Performing repetitive actions until they feel right — Some people with OCD might perform repetitive actions over and over until it feels right to them. This might look like flipping a light switch on and off a certain number of times. Usually, they’ll do so until the uncomfortable feeling goes away.


  • Needing more reassurance than the average person — Some people with OCD may need more reassurance from their peers than the average person.


  • Using superstition to ease distressing thoughts — Some people with OCD experience distressing thoughts that something supernatural will happen if they don’t perform a specific action.


Find help for your OCD symptoms at Lightfully 


Our mission at Lightfully is to work with individuals to change their life compassionately. We strive to provide high-quality mental health care to various types of clients through a focused approach to process-based therapy. The framework of our clinic consists of evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care. Lightfully offers various layers of service to both adults and teens: residential treatment, Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), also referred to as our Day Treatment Program. 


Are you dealing with an anxiety disorder like obsessive-compulsive disorder and the symptoms have become overwhelming? Don’t hesitate to seek treatment. You can get the help you need to manage your OCD symptoms. We’d like to help you work toward a healthier future.


Our licensed, clinical experts see each client as a complex and layered human — not just a diagnosis. We value our clients as they are and hope to enrich their lives through treatment. Our vision for the future is an authentic and loving community where everyone can be seen, heard, and valued as they are. We believe in the light within each individual. When that light is properly nurtured, it can allow a person to shine brighter than ever before.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step toward treating your OCD symptoms, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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