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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Helps Children with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Cognitive behavioral therapy reduces the severity of obsessive compulsive disorder in children and adolescents, according to a new review. This form of treatment helps relieve the overall distress // and reduces the interference that OCD symptoms can cause in young people’s lives.

Further, the evidence indicates that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication are equally effective in treating pediatric OCD, say lead researcher Richard O'Kearney and colleagues.

"When CBT is combined with medication, treatment is more effective than medication alone. Health professionals need to consider this therapy — particularly in view of the controversy about prescribing psychotropic medications to children and teens," said O'Kearney, director of clinical training for psychology at the Australian National University, in Canberra.

This review appears in the October 18 issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates research in all aspects of health care. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

OCD is can start at a very early age — review participants were as young as 7 years old. The disorder affects an estimated 0.5 percent to 4 percent of children and adolescents.

"Symptoms include repeated hand washing, checking behaviors, orderliness and various rituals that are not age-appropriate," O'Kearney said. "Children with OCD can also show generally high levels of anxiety that is managed by the need to perform particular behaviors. These children may be frustrated if their rituals are interrupted. In children, however, the compulsions are sometimes not experienced as distressing to carry out."

But in the big picture, OCD is often associated with significant disruption and impairment of the child’s family, social and a
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