For Youngsters With O.C.D., Coronavirus Precautions Can Go Too Far

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For Kids With O.C.D., Coronavirus Precautions Can Go Too Far

"What I tell parents is to trust your radar," he said. "If your child comes across as emotional or raw or fragile in a way you wouldn't expect, or significantly different from their peers or siblings, you won't regret bringing a professional into the situation."

The most effective approach for those with mild to moderate O.C.D. is an exposure response prevention cognitive behavioral therapy that gradually introduces a person to the thing that terrifies them without indulging in rituals, said Dr. Stork. And the good news, he said, is that this treatment is effective at reducing symptoms more than 75 percent of the time. In more extreme cases, these therapies can be combined with medication.

Lara Koelliker, 18 years old and because of O.C.D. She had severe symptoms for three years from the age of eight before finding a therapist who specialized in exposure therapy. The treatment helped her relieve her symptoms by giving her coping mechanisms, she said.

"I've learned to deal with my uncomfortable feelings and I don't give in to my compulsions," she said. "Now the part of me comes in that has been equipped with all of these strategies."

Many therapists now use video calling to treat patients. And being in a patient's home virtually can be useful for exposure management, as at home often “where O.C.D. is alive, "said Dr. Freeman. For example, some children fear being contaminated by pets, family members, or parts of their home.

“With Zoom I can say, 'Can you show me this room? Can you show me that couch Do you think you can sit on that couch? Can we do this together "

Beyond therapy, parents' top priority must be listening to their children, said Dr. Freeman.

"Validate, validate, validate what the kids are feeling," she said. “And be ready to have difficult conversations that create fearful distress in all of us. It's really important not to tell a child not to be sad, scared, or upset. That invalidates the feelings they are feeling. "

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