OCD: Symptoms, Signs & Risk Factors

Written by Ann Pietrangelo

OCD: Symptoms, Signs & Risk Factors

We all double or triple check something on occasion. We forget if we’ve locked the door or wonder if we’ve left the water running, and we want to be certain. Some of us are perfectionists, so we go over our work several times to make sure it’s right. That’s not abnormal behavior. But if you have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), you feel compelled to act out certain rituals repeatedly, even if you don’t want to — and even if it complicates your life unnecessarily.

Obsessions are the worrisome thoughts that cause anxiety. Compulsions are the behaviors you use to relieve that anxiety.

Signs and Symptoms of OCD

Signs of OCD usually become apparent in childhood or early adulthood. It tends to begin slowly and become more intense as you mature. For many people, symptoms come and go, but it’s usually a lifelong problem. In severe cases, it has a profound impact on quality of life. Without treatment, it can become quite disabling.

Some common obsessions associated with OCD include:

  • anxiety about germs and dirt, or fear of contamination
  • need for symmetry and order
  • concern that your thoughts or compulsions will harm others, feeling you can keep other people safe by performing certain rituals
  • worry about discarding things of little or no value
  • disturbing thoughts or images about yourself or others

Some of the behaviors that stem from these obsessive thoughts include:

  • excessive hand washing, repetitive showering, unnecessary household cleaning
  • continually arranging and reordering things to get them just right
  • checking the same things over and over even though you know you’ve already checked them
  • hoarding unnecessary material possessions like old newspapers and used wrapping paper rather than throwing them away
  • counting or repeating a particular word or phrase. Performing a ritual like having to touch something a certain number of times or take a particular number of steps
  • focusing on positive thoughts to combat the bad thoughts

Social Signs: What to Look For

Some people with OCD manage to mask their behaviors so they’re less obvious. For others, social situations trigger compulsions. Some things you might notice in a person with OCD:

  • raw hands from too much hand washing
  • fear of shaking hands or touching things in public
  • avoidance of certain situations that trigger obsessive thoughts
  • intense anxiety when things are not orderly or symmetrical
  • need to check the same things over and over
  • constant need for reassurance
  • inability to break routine
  • counting for no reason or repeating the same word, phrase, or action
  • at least an hour each day is spent on unwanted thoughts or rituals
  • having trouble getting to work on time or keeping to a schedule due to rituals

Since OCD often begins in childhood, teachers may be the first to notice signs in school. A child who is compelled to count, for instance, may not be able to complete the ritual. The stress can cause angry outbursts and other misbehaviors. One who is afraid of germs may be fearful of playing with other children. A child with OCD may fear they are crazy. Obsessions and compulsions can interfere with schoolwork and lead to poor academic performance.

Children with OCD may have trouble expressing themselves. They may be inflexible and upset when plans change. Their discomfort in social situations can make it difficult to make friends and maintain friendships. In an attempt to mask their compulsions, children with OCD may withdraw socially. Isolation increases the risk for depression.

Risk Factors and Complications

The cause of OCD is not known. It seems to run in families, but there may be environmental factors involved. Most of the time, symptoms of OCD occur before age 25.

If you have OCD, you’re also at increased risk of other anxiety disorders, including major depression and social phobias.

Just because you like things a certain way or arrange your spice rack in alphabetical order, it doesn’t mean you have OCD. However, if obsessive thoughts or ritualistic behavior feels out of your control or are interfering with your life, it’s time to seek treatment.

Treatment usually involves psychotherapy, behavioral modification therapy, or psychiatric medications, alone or in combination. According to Harvard Medical School, with treatment, approximately 10 percent of patients fully recover and about half of patients show some improvement.

Original post: http://www.healthline.com/health/ocd/social-signs

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5 Ways to Prevent Your Kid from Becoming a Back-to-School Tyrant

By Sean Grover

 

 

 

Back to school anxiety can cause some kids to relieve emotional tension by bullying their parents. Here are five ways to reduce that risk.

 

If you have a kid that’s prone to bullying or bossing you around, fasten your seat belts. The end of summer is here, and so are those bedazzling three little words: back-to-school.

Is there another phrase that produces more excitement, dread and mass hysteria in kids? What’s beneath these over-the-top reactions?

Any social situation chockfull of mystery makes kids feel uneasy. The first day of school is teeming with unknowns: “What class will I be in? Will I make new friends? What if everyone hates me?”

When anxiety spikes, many kids start to discharge emotional tension by bullying their parents. As the worrisome day approaches, they may even morph into tiny tyrants. The more vulnerable and self-doubting children and teenagers feel, the more erratic and unstable they can become.

Kids who bully their parents are usually suffering from high levels of emotional stress. As insecurities grow, they have a corrosive effect on their mood, leaving them psychologically fatigued and incapable of self-soothing or controlling their aggressive impulses.

When the first day of school approaches and tension proliferates, kids often look for somewhere to dump their stress. And who is their favorite target? You guessed it, it’s you.

Consider these five steps to preempt back-to-school bullying:

1. Increase exercise

Studies have shown that a cardio workout three times a week reduces anxiety up to 70 percent. If your kid has had a sloth-like summer, get him moving ASAP. The more tension he discharges through exercise, the less he’ll discharge by bullying you.

2. Stabilize sleep schedule

Vampire-like sleep schedules are not uncommon for kids during summer. Your creature of the night will have a serious case of the grumpies when her waking hours have to shift back to the daytime. Do whatever it takes to get your kid back on a consistent sleep schedule a week or two before school starts to avoid the sleep-deprived crazes.

3. Organize the calendar

Structure soothes anxiety. As much as you can, get everything ready: review the class schedule (hanging it in the bedroom is a good idea), take a trip to school, help your kid reconnect with friends and formulate a plan together for the first week—when you’ll eat breakfast, when you’ll head to bed, etc. This kind of scheduling may seem mundane, but creating a framework together will help your kid chill-out when anxiety strikes.

4. Validate concerns

As the first day of school approaches, expect some moodiness and irritability. Maintain your leadership, and don’t become over-reactive or escalate conflicts. Validate your kids concerns by listening and staying positive. Craft your communications to sooth anxieties rather than amplify them.

5. Prepare yourself

You’ve prepared your kid, now prepare yourself. Good childcare requires a heavy dose of self-care. Make sure you’re not suffering from parent burnout. Get enough sleep, see friends that energize you, step out of your parent role and have some fun with your partner. You’ll have more patience, more humor and more flexibility. And remember, with your kids heading back to school, soon you’ll have your life back, too!

Sean Grover, LCSW, author of “When Kids Call the Shots,” is a psychotherapist with more than 20 years experience working with adults and children. To learn what to do when you think your kids are calling the shots, check out Sean’s other article for Parenting: “Do Your Kids Rule the Roost? Here’s How to Regain Control.” You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

©2015 Sean Grover, author of “When Kids Call the Shots: How to Seize Control from Your Darling Bully—and Enjoy Being a Parent Again.”

 

 

Click here for the original article: http://www.parenting.com/child/behavior/5-ways-to-prevent-your-kid-becoming-back-to-school-tyrant?socsrc=ptgfb1508311

Activities for Children With Behavioral Problems

by Jennifer Zimmerman, Demand Media

Behavioral problems have many causes. They can stem from neurological disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, emotional issues such as abuse or family issues such as divorce. Regardless of the cause, though, some activities can help children with behavioral problems. Parents and teachers will need to determine which activities are most appropriate for a specific child.

Exercise

No activities can eliminate behavior problems, but some can reduce the likelihood of them occurring. Exercise is recommended by both Kids Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics for help with behavioral problems. For children whose behavior problems have to do with anger, Kids Health recommends martial arts, wrestling and running as especially helpful forms of exercise.

Role-playing

Lack of self-control is often a cause of behavior problems, so the National Association of School Psychologists has suggested activities to help teach self-control. One idea is to use puppets to role-play wanting something that you can’t have. The organization suggests having your child write or draw something he’d like to do, then discussing it and sharing something you’d like to do, but can’t. Next, you and your child can use puppets to role-play scenarios that are typically frustrating for children such as wanting a toy that another child has or wanting to play with a friend who isn’t available. After acting out the scenarios, you and your child should discuss how he felt and what choices he made during the exercise.

Reading Aloud

Reading to your children is more than just an opportunity to settle down at bedtime and increase literacy skills; it can also be an opportunity to practice identifying feelings. Children who struggle to identify feelings, whether their own or others can have behavior problems. The National Association of School Psychologists suggests parents discuss character’s feelings with their children while they read and encourage children to draw pictures to illustrate those feelings.

Teach Problem-solving

Sometimes children misbehave because they don’t know how to handle a circumstance or a feeling correctly, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The National Association of School Psychologists suggests teaching children to deal with feeling angry. Have them recognize that they are angry by identifying characteristics such as clenched hands, then have them count to 10, then have them think about their choices. Discuss choices such as walking away, taking deep breaths or telling the person how you feel in a calm voice. Finally, children should act on their best choice.

 

Click here for original article: http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/activities-children-behavioral-problems-5099.html

How to Get Kids To Listen Without Yelling

…When promises, pleading and threats no longer work, yelling can feel like the only option. Especially if time is short, behaviors are out of bounds, and big power struggles break out  yelling becomes the go to way to get kids to start listening.  

The problem is that yelling at kids really doesn’t help them focus on what you want them to do.  Katie Hurley, parenting educator explains why this backfires:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here for the original article: http://www.positiveparentingconnection.net/how-to-get-kids-to-listen-without-yelling/

Basic Principles of Behavior Modification

Video created by New Zealand Psychologist Dr Alice Boyes. This video is an experiment in making some basic videos.

ADHD Isn’t a Disorder of Attention

 

Many people think of ADHD as a disorder of attention or lack thereof. This is the traditional view of ADHD. But ADHD is much more complex. It involves issues with executive functioning, a set of cognitive skills, which has far-reaching effects.

In his comprehensive and excellent book Mindful Parenting for ADHD: A Guide to Cultivating Calm, Reducing Stress & Helping Children Thrive, developmental behavioral pediatrician Mark Bertin, MD, likens ADHD to an iceberg.

Above the water, people see poor focus, impulsivity and other noticeable symptoms. However, below the surface are a slew of issues caused by impaired executive function (which Bertin calls “an inefficient, off-task brain manager”).

Understanding the role of executive function in ADHD is critical for parents, so they can find the right tools to address their child’s ADHD. Plus, what may look like deliberate misbehaving may be an issue with ADHD, a symptom that requires a different solution.

And if you’re an adult with ADHD, learning about the underlying issues can help you better understand yourself and find strategies that actually work — versus trying harder, which doesn’t.

It helps to think of executive function as involving six skills. In Mindful Parenting for ADHD, Dr. Bertin models this idea after an outline from ADHD expert Thomas E. Brown. The categories are:

Attention Management

ADHD isn’t an inability to pay attention. ADHD makes it harder to manage your attention. According to Bertin, “It leads to trouble focusing when demands rise, being overly focused when intensely engaged, and difficulty shifting attention.”

For instance, in noisy settings, kids with ADHD can lose the details of a conversation, feel overwhelmed and shut down (or act out). It’s also common for kids with ADHD to be so engrossed in an activity that they won’t register anything you say to them during that time.

Action Management

This is the “ability to monitor your own physical activity and behavior,” Bertin writes. Delays in this type of executive function can lead to fidgeting, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

It also can take longer to learn from mistakes, which requires being aware of the details and consequences of your actions. And it can cause motor delays, poor coordination and problems with handwriting.

Task Management

This includes organizing, planning, prioritizing and managing time. As kids get older, it’s task management (and not attention) that tends to become the most problematic.

Also, “Unlike some ADHD-related difficulties, task management doesn’t respond robustly to medication,” Bertin writes. This means that it’s important to teach your kids strategies for getting organized.

Information Management

People with ADHD can have poor working memory. “Working memory is the capacity to manage the voluminous information we encounter in the world and integrate it with what we know,” Bertin writes. We need to be able to temporarily hold information for everything from conversations to reading to writing.

This explains why your child may not follow through when you give them a series of requests. They simply lose the details. What can help is to write a list for your child, or give them a shorter list of verbal instructions.

Emotion Management

Kids with ADHD tend to be more emotionally reactive. They get upset and frustrated faster than others. But that’s because they may not have the ability to control their emotions and instead react right away.

Effort Management

Individuals with ADHD have difficulty sustaining effort. It isn’t that they don’t value work or aren’t motivated, but they may run out of steam. Some kids with ADHD also may not work as quickly or efficiently.

Trying to push them can backfire. “For many kids with ADHD, external pressure may decrease productivity …Stress decreases cognitive efficiency, making it harder to solve problems and make choices,” Bertin writes. This can include tasks such as leaving the house and taking tests.

Other Issues

Bertin features a list of other signs in Mindful Parenting for ADHD because many ADHD symptoms involve several parts of executive function. For instance, kids with ADHD tend to struggle with maintaining routines, and parents might need to help them manage these routines longer than other kids.

Kids with ADHD also have inconsistent performance. This leads to a common myth: If you just try harder, you’ll do better. However, as Bertin notes, “Their inconsistency is their ADHD. If they could succeed more often, they would.”

Managing time is another issue. For instance, individuals with ADHD may not initially see all the steps that are required for a project, thereby taking a whole lot more time. They may underestimate how long a task will take (“I’ll watch the movie tonight and write my paper before the bus tomorrow”). They may not track their time accurately or prioritize effectively (playing until it’s too late to do homework).

In addition, people with ADHD often have a hard time finishing what they start. Kids may rarely put things away, leaving cabinets open and leaving their toys and clothes all over the house.

ADHD is complex and disruptions in executive functioning affect all areas of a person’s life. But this doesn’t mean that you or your child is doomed. Rather, by learning more about how ADHD really works, you can find specific strategies to address each challenge.

And thankfully there are many tools to pick from. You can start by typing in “strategies for ADHD” in the search bar on Psych Central and checking out Bertin’s valuable book.

 

Original article: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/12/12/adhd-isnt-a-disorder-of-attention/