Acute-Onset of OCD in Kids

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By Caroline Miller
Published April 23, 2013, by the Child Mind Institute

Parents use words like “abrupt,” “overnight,” and “out of the blue.” The symptoms, they say, went “from zero to 60.” The child, who had been happy and untroubled,  “fell off a cliff.”

Parents can often tell you the exact day a child started his washing hands until they’re raw, opening and closing the door endlessly, asking the same questions over and over.  It’s called acute-onset OCD, and the onset can often be linked to a strep or some other kind of infection.

In most cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder, the symptoms come on gradually. A child begins to experience fears that are disturbing and distracting. He typically hides them as long as he can, managing them with compulsive rituals like counting and touching things repeatedly and washing his hands. Eventually, the obsessions and compulsions take over more and more of his life, until he can’t hide any more. But with acute-onset OCD, it’s as if kids are suddenly “possessed” by full-fledged OCD symptoms. Read the full story.