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Adolescent OCD Treatment

teen boy in an OCD treatment program

It is normal to have worries and doubts sometimes. These emotions are a part of being human. Humans often second-guess themselves from time to time. But for teens with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), these worries and doubts become so extreme that they can take over their lives.

OCD can make it hard for teens to concentrate at school or work. It can interfere with friendships and family relationships. This condition can even make it hard to leave the house at times. Parents of teens and adolescents struggling with OCD know firsthand how difficult the condition can be. Loved ones may feel helpless at times when managing the adolescent’s OCD. However, it is essential to know that there is hope.

Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness offers mental health treatment for adolescents. We use a combination of medication and therapy to help our patients manage their symptoms and live full, happy lives. While we don’t specialize in OCD, our center is here to help families and teens find tools to manage OCD symptoms and navigate the treatment process. Mental health treatment for adolescents is our specialty, and we are dedicated to helping those in need—call us today at 855.940.6229 to schedule an appointment with us.

What Is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental health condition that affects people of all ages. However, it is common for OCD to start during the teen or adolescent years. People with OCD often have recurring thoughts (obsessions) that they cannot control and need to perform specific tasks repeatedly (compulsions). The compulsive behaviors are performed to relieve anxiety caused by the obsessions.

This condition affects about 0.25%–4% of children and adolescents, with a peak onset around puberty. OCD can be debilitating, causing distress and interfering with schooling, work, and social activities. It usually starts gradually, with symptoms typically becoming more severe over time.

The exact cause of OCD is unknown, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People with OCD often have other mental health conditions, such as anxiety, mood, or eating disorders, which we focus on in our treatment programs. Treatment for OCD can help reduce symptoms and help adolescents live happier and healthier lives.

Symptoms of OCD

Teens with OCD often have thoughts or compulsions that disturb their daily routines. They may try to ignore the thoughts or push them out of their mind, but they tend to be difficult or impossible to ignore. Without proper treatment, the thoughts or compulsions keep coming back. There are many symptoms of OCD, which can vary from person to person.

Some symptoms may include:

  • Excessive fear of germs or contamination
  • Unwanted thoughts and images that are violent, sexual, or religious in nature
  • Extreme preoccupation with order and symmetry
  • Counting and arranging objects multiple times in specific ways
  • Repeatedly checking things (e.g., locks on doors, appliances turned off)

These behaviors can interfere with daily activities and cause significant distress. If your adolescent is experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be time to seek professional help.

Understanding the Risk Factors of OCD

There is no specific factor known to cause OCD. However, studies suggest that environmental, genetic, and biological factors may increase the risk of developing this condition.

Family History

OCD may more likely develop in individuals with the disorder with first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, children). This suggests that there may be a genetic component to the condition. However, it’s essential to note that genes are not the only factor in developing OCD. Some people with OCD do not have family members with the condition.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors contributing to the development of OCD include stressful life events and exposure to someone else with OCD. It’s thought that these factors may interact with an individual’s genetic vulnerability to trigger the development of OCD.

Biological Causes

OCD has also been linked to deficiencies in the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is involved in the brain’s stress response system and helps to regulate mood and anxiety. Like serotonin, imbalances in norepinephrine levels have been linked to several psychiatric disorders, including OCD.

How Our Mental Health Treatment Program in Massachusetts Can Help Your Child

Teenagers suffering from OCD usually undergo therapy, medication, or a combination. A treatment approach should be recommended by a trained professional. Mental and behavioral health professionals can help families decide which approach is appropriate given the specific needs of the adolescent. In some cases, incorporating more than one method may be necessary.

At Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness, we offer a mental health treatment program for adolescents that can help with OCD symptoms but not specialize in them. Our team of mental health experts works with patients and their families to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses the unique needs of each individual. We use evidence-based treatments such as:

Therapy Options for OCD

Therapy is a vital component of effective OCD treatment, with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) being among the most commonly recommended approaches:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT targets and changes negative thoughts and behaviors to modify undesired behavior patterns or treat mood disorders like OCD. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), part of CBT, is particularly effective for OCD. It exposes individuals to their anxiety triggers or obsessions and teaches them to refrain from compulsive actions. With time, ERP can diminish OCD’s compulsive behaviors by helping individuals handle their anxiety more healthily.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT combines cognitive-behavioral techniques and mindfulness concepts from Buddhist meditation for better emotion management. Originally aimed at treating borderline personality disorder, it’s now used for various mental health issues, including OCD. DBT offers skills in mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness, which are especially useful for those with OCD to manage emotions and decrease compulsive behaviors.


Several medications can effectively treat OCD, including antidepressants, antipsychotics, and beta-blockers. The choice of medication will be based on the patient’s specific needs. In some cases, teens may only require medication for a short period, while in other cases, they may need to take medication on a long-term basis.

There is no single “right” treatment for OCD. What works for one teenager may not work for another. So, it’s best to work with a qualified mental health professional to develop an individualized treatment plan. With proper treatment, most teens with OCD can learn to manage their symptoms and live fulfilling lives.

How Can Adolescent OCD Treatment Impact Your Child’s Life?

Our mental health treatment program at Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness can significantly enhance the quality of your child’s life. By equipping your child with strategies to manage their OCD, they can regain control over their thoughts and actions, leading to a substantial improvement in their overall well-being and functionality.

Here are some of the key ways that treatment can impact your child’s life:

  • Reduced anxiety – Effective treatment can alleviate the anxiety caused by intrusive thoughts and compulsions, contributing to a more relaxed and less stressed mental state.
  • Improved academic performance – By reducing the time and energy spent on obsessive worries and compulsive routines, your child can better focus on their studies, leading to improved academic performance.
  • Enhanced social interactions – As your child learns to manage their OCD, they may feel more comfortable engaging with peers and participating in social activities, which can help enhance their social skills and relationships.
  • Boosted confidence—Successfully managing OCD can instill a sense of accomplishment and boost your child’s confidence, which can have positive effects on all areas of life.
  • Better quality of life – Overall, effective treatment can significantly improve your child’s quality of life, allowing them to spend less time worrying and more time enjoying their adolescence.

Remember, managing OCD is a marathon, not a sprint. But with patience, support, and professional help, your child can lead a happier, healthier life.

Contact Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness to Enroll Your Teen in Mental Health Care

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental health condition that can commonly begin during adolescence. OCD is characterized by symptoms related to obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. OCD can be a debilitating mental health condition, but with treatment, symptoms can be reduced.

If you are the parent of an adolescent struggling with OCD symptoms, please know that help is available. Our mental health professionals at Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness are committed to aiding adolescents in managing the symptoms of the mental health conditions we treat, including OCD. We are committed to ensuring that all our patients and their families receive the tools to improve their wellness through day treatment and intensive outpatient programs.

Call us today at 855.940.6229 to enroll your child in our mental health treatment program and begin their journey to recovery.