OCD in Teenagers: Signs, Treatment, and Giving Support

OCD is most commonly treated with medication, therapy, or a combination of the two. Generally, therapists will use methods such as exposure and response prevention (ERP) or another type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to address OCD symptoms.

The method for ERP is to gradually expose a client to their fears until those fears lose their power. A therapist will help teens develop personalized strategies so they can practice exposure techniques outside of therapy sessions.

About 50% to 60% of clients with OCD respond well to ERP, and 2019 research shows that most people still show significant improvements up to 2 years later.

Other forms of CBT may also be used for managing OCD symptoms. CBT can help treat people how to unlearn unhelpful thinking patterns and implement healthier emotional and behavioral reactions.

Although therapy, particularly ERP, are considered the most effective treatments for OCD, medication is the another treatment option for OCD.

Selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, sertraline, and paroxetine, were shown in a 2003 trial to be effective at managing OCD symptoms in children and adolescents.

If one SSRI isn’t improving symptoms after 10-12 weeks, then a different SSRI is usually tried next.