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Childhood hypersensitivity linked to OCD
Date:12/27/2011

OCD tendencies, their anxiety levels, and their past and current sensitivity to oral and tactile stimulation.

Results from both studies indicated a strong connection between compulsive tendencies and hypersensitivity. In children, hypersensitivity was an indicator of ritualism, whereas in adults it was related to OCD symptoms. As a whole, these findings provide preliminary support for the idea that such sensitivities are a precursor to OCD symptoms. When children are extremely sensitive to certain types of touch or smell, they can feel that they are being attacked, or that the environment is threatening them, Prof. Dar believes. Ritualism could develop as a defence mechanism, helping these children to regain a sense of control, which is also a symptom of adults with OCD.

Identifying the turning point

Next Prof. Dar hopes to conduct a longitudinal study to better understand the connection between hypersensitivity in childhood and adult OCD, following a large sample of children who experience oral and tactile sensitivities through to adulthood.

Of course, Prof. Dar says, all children have particular habits and preferences, and they're not all precursors to OCD. So what should parents watch for to correctly characterize normal and potentially pathological behavior? "If you see that a child is very rigid with rituals, becoming anxious if unable to engage in this behavior, it is more alarming," he explains. Also, age is a factor. A habit exhibited by a five- or six-year-old is not necessarily a predictor of OCD. If the same behavior continues to the ages of eight and above, it could be a warning sign, especially if accompanied by anxiety or distress.


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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

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