Visit our foundation to give a gift.
View Locations Near Me
Main Campus – Hartford
Connecticut Children’s – Waterbury
Urgent Care – Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Danbury
Connecticut Children’s Surgery Center at Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Fairfield
Search All Locations
Find a doctor
Find A Doctor
Request an Appointment
Amenities and Services
Who’s Who on Care Team
Getting Ready for Surgery
What to Expect—Picture Stories
Pay a Bill
Understanding the Different Fees
Pricing Transparency and Estimates
Raytheon Technologies Family Resource Center
Family Advisory Council
Legal Advocacy: Benefits, Education, Housing
Electronic Health Records
Share Your Story
Pay a Bill
Login to MyChart
Clinical Support Services Referrals
About the Network
Join the Network
Graduate Medical Education
Continuing Medical Education
MOC/Practice Quality Improvement
Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC)
Learning & Performance
Meet our Physician Relations Team
Request Medical Records
Join our Referring Provider Advisory Board
View our Physician Callback Standards
Read & Subscribe to Medical News
Register for Email Updates
Update Your Practice Information
Refer a Patient
Find and Print Health Info
Health Information For Teens
OCD causes the brain to create repetitive worries and fears. These worries, fears and “bad thoughts” can pop up in the brain and might be hard to get rid of.
People who have OCD feel they can’t stop thinking about worries like these:
OCD also can cause people to feel they have to do behaviors to feel safe from worries and fears. For example, someone with OCD might feel like they have to:
These behaviors are called rituals. People with OCD may repeat rituals over and over. Doing a ritual temporarily interrupts the bad thoughts.
The brain learns that doing a ritual brings relief. Pretty soon, people with OCD do a ritual automatically. They may feel like they can’t stop. But doing rituals causes OCD to continue.
The name OCD is short for obsessive-compulsive disorder. “Disorder” is a medical way of saying that something in the body isn’t working properly. “Obsessive” is the unwanted thoughts and worries. “Compulsive” is a medical word used to describe the behaviors that people feel they must do to fix the worries.
OCD happens because of a problem in the brain’s message system. The problem causes worry and fear messages to form by mistake. It also causes the strong feeling of having to do a ritual to make things safe.
Scientists don’t yet know what causes this problem to happen. OCD tends to run in families. People may get OCD because it’s in their genes or they might have had an infection. There may be differences in the brain that cause OCD to start. OCD is not caused by anything a person (or parent) did.
Teens with OCD might have it for a while before a parent or doctor realizes it. They may know that their worries and rituals don’t make sense. They may want to stop, but feel they can’t.
OCD worries and rituals can multiply and begin taking more time and energy. This makes it hard to concentrate, do schoolwork, or enjoy fun and friends. OCD can leave people feeling stressed, tired, and sad.
People who have OCD don’t have to go through it alone. The best thing to do is tell a parent or other adult so you can go to a doctor.
To diagnose OCD, doctors who know the signs of OCD will ask questions and talk about what’s happening. They also will do a health checkup.
If a doctor decides that you have OCD, it can be a relief to know what’s causing the trouble. Now you can move forward and learn how to overcome it.
OCD can get better with therapy. Doctors sometimes also give medicines to treat OCD. But not everyone needs medicine to get well.
Therapists and doctors use a talk-and-do therapy for OCD. During this treatment, you will learn more about OCD and how it works. You will learn that doing rituals keeps OCD going strong and not doing rituals weakens OCD. You will learn and practice ways to face fears and ignore worry messages caused by OCD. You will learn to resist doing rituals.
You’ll spend time talking and practicing your new skills. This can take time — how long depends on the person. But learning and practicing these skills stops the cycle of OCD and allows the brain’s message system to work better again.
If you’re going through OCD, parents or other adults can be a big part of helping you get better.
Your therapist can teach your parent the best ways to help you through OCD. Family members can help you practice the things you learn in therapy, like dealing with fears and rituals. They can help you with schoolwork if you have trouble getting it done. They can talk with your teacher if you need extra help while you’re going through OCD.
Parents and adults in your life can be there to give you love and support. They can take your mind off OCD by doing fun or relaxing things with you. And they can remind you that OCD can get better with time, practice, and patience.
Whether it’s an everyday issue like schoolwork or an emergency situation, these tips can help you improve communications with your parents and other adults.
Getting help with emotions or stress is the same as getting help with a medical problem like asthma or diabetes. This article explains how therapy works and how it can help with problems.
Your best resource for health information and advice is your doctor – the person who knows you, your medical history, and accurate medical information to answer your questions.
School counselors can give you all sorts of tips and support on solving problems and making good decisions. But how do you meet with a counselor and what is it like? Find out here.
If you need mental health care but don’t think you can afford it, you’re not alone. Get tips on finding low-cost or free mental health care in this article for teens.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.