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OCD Symptoms Worsening Among Children During COVID-19

Worsening was most pronounced among children with early age of onset, family history of ADHD

MONDAY, Nov. 16, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Many children and adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have experienced a worsening of their symptoms during the COVID-19 crisis, according to a study published online Oct. 20 in BMC Psychiatry.

Judith B. Nissen, Ph.D., from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues distributed a questionnaire to two separate groups of children/adolescents to examine how those with OCD react toward the COVID-19 crisis. One group included newly diagnosed participants at a specialist OCD clinic, who all had a current close contact to a therapist or doctor. The other was a survey group identified through the Danish OCD Association, most of whom had been diagnosed years earlier and had completed primary treatment.

The researchers found that participants from both groups, but especially those in the survey group, experienced a worsening of their symptoms of OCD, anxiety, and depression. OCD aggravation correlated with worsening of anxiety, depressive symptoms, and the extent of avoidance behavior. OCD aggressive symptoms predicted a significant worsening in both groups. A trend to predict symptom worsening was seen for poor baseline insight. In children with early age of onset and a family history of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, the worsening was most pronounced.

“This may be related to both the direct threat of the infection and to the consequences of having to maintain social distancing, social isolation, and the significant level of focus on hygiene,” Nissen said in a statement.

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