What are Anxiety/OCD?

What is OCD?

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that affects at least one in 200 youth. It occurs when a person is caught up in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions:

  1. Obsessions are intrusive thoughts, images, or urges that come up over and over again and feel outside of the student’s control. These obsessions cause discomfort and distress.
  2. Compulsions, or rituals, are behaviors a child feels they have to do to get rid of the bad feelings from the obsessions. These behaviors can be both physical and mental.  

In general, OCD is diagnosed when these obsessions and compulsions become so time consuming that they negatively interfere with your life. Typically, the obsessions and compulsions become gradually more severe over time until they get to this point.

There are many different types of OCD. Here are a few of the most common obsessions and compulsions:




ContaminationFear of touching or otherwise coming into contact with things you think are "contaminated," or dirty, unclean, dangerous, gross, etc.

These things can include body fluids, dirt, germs/diseases, chemicals, etc.
Washing hands over and over again or doing so in a specific way

Long cleaning routines in the bathroom (showering, brushing etc..)

Avoiding places, or people you believe are contaminated
Perfectionism Having really high expectations when it comes to completing an assignment or a task

Wanting to know or remember things or being afraid you’ll forget something important
Re-writing or re-reading 

Repeating until it feels right

Stepping on an even number of sidewalks
Doing HarmFear of doing something horrible to yourself or a loved one

Being afraid something terrible is going to happen to friends, or family.
Repeating positive words a certain number of times to avoid harm from happening to a loved one or a family member.

Seeking reassurance that you didn’t do something that harmed your loved ones 
Intrusive ThoughtsHaving unwanted harmful or forbidden thoughts come to mind Intrusive thoughts can involve mental compulsions like doing homework and making sure it ends on a good note, or a safe number.

What is Anxiety?

As a student, you may feel worry, fear, or nervousness. This is defined as anxiety and it can happen at any time regardless of what is happening in your life. Anxiety can also affect your behavior at school and at home, your ability to participate in class and perform assigned tasks. 

Click on the (+) sign next to each condition below to learn more about the various types of anxiety disorders:

How are Anxiety/OCD Treated?

The treatment for anxiety and OCD is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and/or medication.  For certain types of anxiety and for OCD specifically, a type of CBT called exposure and response prevention therapy is the best treatment. The exposure in ERP means exposing yourself to thoughts, images, objects, or situations that may make you anxious. The response prevention part of ERP means you make a choice to not engage in compulsive behavior. This may sound hard, but it is done with the help of a professional therapist.  Click here to learn more about CBT/ERP, and click here to learn more about how to find the right therapist.

Medication can also help treat anxiety/OCD, especially if your symptoms are really severe and intense. The type of medications used for anxiety/OCD are called serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs). This medication should be administered by a licensed medical mental health professional, such as a pediatrician or psychiatrist. Click here to learn more about medication for anxiety/OCD.