Testing & Diagnosis for Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in Children

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How is obsessive-compulsive disorder diagnosed?

If you are concerned that your child may have OCD, you should have him or her evaluated by a qualified mental health professional, which may include a psychiatrist, psychologist, nurse practitioner, or licensed clinical social worker. The diagnosis is made through a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation. Parents who note signs of severe anxiety or obsessive or compulsive behaviors in their child or teen should seek an evaluation right away, as early treatment can often prevent future problems.

In order for a diagnosis of OCD to be made, the obsessions and compulsions must be pervasive, severe, and disruptive enough that the child or adolescent's activities of daily living and function are adversely affected. In most cases, the activities involved with the disorder (i.e., hand-washing, checking the locks on the doors) consume more than one hour each day and cause psychological distress and impaired mental functioning. In most cases, adults realize that their behaviors are unusual to some degree. However, children and adolescents often do not have this critical ability to judge this type of behavior as irrational and abnormal.

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