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Does my 19 year old son have OCD?


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Hi,

I've been getting increasingly concerned about my son's behaviour around personal hygiene and also some other mannerisms I've noticed.  He was always quite an obsessive boy compared to his siblings when he was little, first Fireman Sam, then Spiderman, then Football, he was completely monogamous with each interest at the time and we thought it was cute and thought his dedication to be encouraging.  These past two years though he's been spending progressively more or his time on personal hygiene, he came back from his first year at university and is spending at least two hours a day on washing himself, he has countless pots of cleaning products, moisturizers and other products I had no idea existed.  He does his laundry and wants to wash his trousers after a single day's use, and handles his dirty clothes as if they were radioactive.  He also gets through a packet of wet toilet paper wipes per day.  I've asked him about all of these things and he does acknowledge that it's excessive (we've even discussed OCD), but he can't seem to stop.  He is still able to work his part-time job and kept on top of his studies at uni, but if his personal hygiene obsession gets any worse it's going to impact.  I also fear if we are able to get him off this personal hygiene obsession, he will just get obsessed with something else.

What can I do to help him?  

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Hi dragonfly1033,

It's hard to say from what you've written if your son has OCD or not, typically compulsions in OCD are done in response to thoughts that cause distress or feelings that seem intolerable. It's normal for people with OCD to struggle trying to stop their compulsions, as each compulsion buys into the idea that they are very important to do, in other words you get stuck in a vicious circle of worry/thoughts, distress and compulsions. If your son is finding these rituals are interfering in his daily life then he can reach out to local mental health services for support and treatment. The recommended treatment for OCD is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which looks at the meanings we place on our thoughts and feelings and teaches us how we can respond differently to them. Some people also try Selective Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) which are a type of antidepressant medication.

If you son is in England then he can self-refer for CBT to his local Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service without speaking to his GP. You can find your local service here https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-psychological-therapies-service/ If he is elsewhere in the UK then he would need to speak to his GP for a referral to his local community mental health team.

I hope this is helpful,

Gemma :)

 

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