Editorials

Children with obsessive compulsive disorder

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7106.444 (Published 23 August 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:444

Should have access to specific psychopharmacological and behavioural treatments

  1. Isobel Heyman, Lecturera (i.heyman@iop.bpmf.ac.uk)
  1. a Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, London SE5 8AF

    Obsessive compulsive disorder in young people is common and under-recognised. Estimated prevalence rates in children and adolescents are about 1%.1 The distress to young people caused by the characteristic intrusive, unwanted, and often unpleasant thoughts or fears is often hidden, as children identify these symptoms as peculiar or embarrassing and keep them secret, sometimes for years. Likewise, compulsive behaviours such as washing or checking are usually perceived as unnecessary and often ridiculous, and children may go to great lengths to conceal them.

    The psychopathology is strikingly similar to that seen in the adult disorder, and many adults diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder report that their symptoms first began in childhood.2 Parents, teachers, and primary care practitioners, as well as paediatricians and child psychiatrists, may well be familiar with the symptoms, …

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