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OCD in Children Responds to Behavioral Health Treatments

Posted by admin in Behavioral Health

Study results published in the September 21st issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) indicates that cognitive behavioral therapy can assist in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in children and teens.

The study was conducted at three medical centers from 2004-2009 by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine with Martin E. Franklin, Ph.D. as lead researcher. Cognitive behavioral therapy was added to the customary pharmaceutical treatment regimen.

The participating patients spanned from age 7 to age 17. Some received medication alone, others received medication along with cognitive behavioral therapy for only a brief period of time, while others received medication along with cognitive behavioral therapy for a 12-week period. 124 subjects who had been diagnosed with OCD were studied.

At the end of the 12 weeks, the children receiving cognitive behavioral therapy scored better on the Children’s Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale. In those who had experienced a full round of therapy, 69 percent scored better. Of those with a shorter period of therapy, 34 percent scored better. Thirty percent of those who received medication alone scored better on the scale.

The behavioral health researchers believe that their findings are significant enough to indicate that OCD in children and teenagers should involve both medication and cognitive behavioral therapy.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a psychological treatment that helps the patients change the thoughts that lead to negative, troubling, or destructive behaviors. More than 400 clinical studies have proven the effectiveness of this type of therapy. Besides OCD, this therapeutic approach has been used to treat anxiety and clinical depression, among other disorders.

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

 OCD is a psychological condition that causes the affected individual to repeat thoughts or behaviors in an obsessive way. If the person is unable to repeat the behaviors or thoughts, anxiety may result. The individual usually feels powerless to stop the obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors, and these thoughts and behaviors often prevent the individual from leading a normal, productive life.

Cognitive behavioral health therapy can often help individuals with OCD to begin to gain some control over their behaviors and thoughts in order to at least reduce the obsessions and compulsions. As the study indicates, combining this therapeutic approach with medication appears to bring about the most substantial reduction in symptoms, at least in people aged 17 and younger.

No one knows the cause of OCD, but 1 in 50 people are estimated to suffer with the disorder.


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