Health Alert: Teens with OCD

NATIONAL - About two percent of children and adults suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder.

One young patient describes her OCD as normal teenage anxiety multiplied by 100.

Lizzie Rogers is a typical 17-year-old teenager, active in sports and cheerleading. But for years, she hid a troubling secret. She suffered from OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, and it was getting worse.

"I had this really big thing, I thought, like over-thought everything, like I didn't sleep at night 'cause I was thinking so much. I'd replay everything in my head and it just got to the point where, like, this isn't normal," said Lizzie.

"My closet's neat now, but when I OCD's, every shirt was color coordinated, they were spaced out perfectly, they all had to have the same colored hangars," she continued.

Doctor Andrew Gilbert is with one of the few programs in the country that offers intensive outpatient OCD treatment jut for kids.

"We've come a long way in recognizing this disorder in childhood and adolescence," said Dr Gilbert. "And we have some really good evidence supporting particular treatments that appear to be very effective."

Through cognitive, behavioral therapy, kids learn how their thoughts are leading to anxiety. Then in the exposures room, they face what triggers their OCD and learn how to cope. So it it's contamination fears, they touch something they find dirty or disgusting. If it's symmetry issues, they're not allowed to organize things that are out of order.

Dr. Gilbert explains, "Because what we're trying to teach them to do is habituate. Habituation is a phenomenon that involves getting used to discomfort, getting used to anxiety. We all do it."

"You realize that its not that bad and nothing bad is going to happen if you don't do it or if you do it," says Lizzie. But triggers change. Lizzie says her OCD still comes up everyday.

"So you just like, kinda like, what my mom says, slap down that OCD."

And now she knows how.

Doctor Gilbert is currently doing a brain imaging study to look for changes in brain patterns when they symptoms of OCD are provoked.

He hopes measuring brain activity will help researchers better understand and treat OCD.

Posted by Bryce Mursch