OCD Treatment
OCD Treatment for Adolescents

It is normal to have worries and doubts from time to time. After all, these emotions are a part of being human. We all second-guess ourselves from time to time. But for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD, these worries and doubts become so extreme that they can take over the lives of those struggling.

OCD can make it hard 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 OCD treatment for adolescents. We use a combination of medication and therapy to help our patients manage their symptoms and live full, happy lives. Our center is here to help families and teens find tools to manage OCD symptoms and navigate the treatment process.

Adolescent and Teen OCD Treatment in Massachusetts

What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder that causes recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). 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. Treatment for OCD can help reduce symptoms and help adolescents live happier and healthier lives.

OCD Treatment

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. However, there are two main types of symptoms: obsessive and compulsive.

OCD Treatment

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Risk Factors of OCD

There is no specific factor that causes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But, medical studies suggest that some environmental, genetic, and maternal factors increase the chances of a kid acquiring this behavioral condition.

Risk factors for ADHD can include:

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 disorder. However, it is 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 is 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.

Treatment for OCD in Teens

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.

Exposure & Response Prevention

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy is the mainstay of OCD treatment. It comprises gradually exposing the patient to the things they fear and dread without engaging in the compulsive behaviors that provide temporary relief from anxiety. ERP is often combined with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps patients to challenge and change the negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to their OCD.


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.

OCD Treatment

Adolescent OCD Treatment Center - Near Boston, Massachusetts

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder 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 disorder, 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 MCAW 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 clients and their families receive the tools to improve their wellness through day treatment and intensive outpatient programs.

Clinically Reviewed by:

Dr. Melanie Carbonneau PhD, LMHC, MT-BC

Dr. Melanie Carbonneau PhD, LMHC, MT-BC

Melanie Carbonneau is the Clinical Director at Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness and is a licensed counselor and certified music therapist with a Ph.D. from Lesley University. She leads MCAW with a focus on holistic care, emphasizing the importance of family and community involvement in the healing process.