OCD In Adolescents: How Does It Manifest And Should It Be Addressed?


The word obsession derives from the Latin obbsesio-onis, which means siege, and compulsion comes from the Latin compellere, which means to force to do. The origin of this name arises in Germany, where (Krafft-Ebing, 1879) used the term “Zwangvorstellung” to name the thoughts and actions that people could not resist, which gave the final name of the disorder.

What exactly is OCD?

OCD, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5); American Psychiatric Association (APA, 2013), is called obsessive and related compulsive disorders. AND It is characterized by the presence of recurrent obsessions and compulsions that cause intense distress and marked functional impairment in multiple domains and even in activities such as at home, school and socially.

Fernández and García (2019) refer to epidemiological studies carried out by (Cols & Tie, 2019), OCD begins in childhood, affecting the academic, family and social life of children and interfering with their cognitive and psychosocial development. Likewise (Keeley & Storch, 2008; Valleni-Basilet et al., 1994) report that this disorder frequently shows more clinical and subclinical symptoms during adolescence. Furthermore, according to (Heymam & Krebs, 2014) it indicates that OCD is associated with an increased risk of suffering from other psychiatric disorders in adulthood.


For a better understanding of this article I want to start by defining what OCD is. OCD is characterized by the presence and recurrence of obsessions and compulsions that interfere with proper functioning and adaptation. What is meant by?

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1. Obsessions

They are those recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses or images experienced, at first as inappropriate and aversive and that generate anxiety, anguish, and intense discomfort in certain situations that lead him to carry out some type of overt or covert behavior to confront said discomfort (compulsions). According to (Kwon & Lee, 2003; cited in Bados, 2005) obsessions are classified as autogenic and reactive:

1.1. Autogenic obsessions

They are those for which it is difficult to find triggering stimuli; they usually have content related to topics that the person considers immoral such as: sex, blasphemy, aggressiveness, which are experienced with intense anguish and personal discomfort that they will resort to their covert rituals to control. From the authors’ perspective (Rachman, 2003; Wells, 2000), they call this tendency thought-action fusion and consider this type of dysfunctional beliefs as a core aspect of a large proportion of OCD cases.

1.2. Reactive obsessions

They are those obsessions that are activated by specific situations or stimuli and are not experienced by the person who has them with as much discomfort as autogenic obsessions, since they are assumed to be reactions to aversive stimuli such as asymmetry, dirt, glitches, errors, security objects, etc. For this reason, to face these situations, they perform certain rituals such as (washing, checking, order, security, etc.) to prevent disastrous consequences.

2. Compulsions

They are rigid motor and cognitive behaviors to reduce or prevent the discomfort generated by obsessions and/or to neutralize and prevent the negative consequences anticipated by them. Compulsions can be observable motor behaviors such as washing or cleaning, or covert responses such as neutralizing cognitive acts. According to studies carried out by (Cruzado, 1998) In most cases, 90% of compulsions are usually carried out in response to obsessions and 10% are compulsions without obsessions or discomfort.

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Types of obsessions and compulsions

Marquez et al. (2017) describe the following types:

OCD Treatment

It consists of pharmacological and cognitive behavioral psychotherapeutic treatment, schema-focused therapy, acceptance and commitment, exposure and ERP. The therapeutic model will depend on the level, type and chronicity of OCD.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by cognitive obsessions and compulsive behaviors. This disorder presents different types such as: contamination, violence and aggressive impulses, security, eroticism, among others. As for the treatment, it is almost always through medication, which is prescribed by the psychiatrist and psychotherapeutic treatment is essential so that those obsessions can be restructured and reduce-extinguish the compulsive behavior.