Washington: While engaging in repetitive and ritualistic behaviour is a part of childhood development, a new study now says that behaviours that develop into obsessive and compulsive symptoms (OCS) may represent a red flag for serious psychiatric conditions.
The research, conducted by the Lifespan Brain Institute (LiBI) of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found children and young adults with OCS also admitted towards having bad thoughts and were more likely to experience mental health issues such as depression and suicide.
The results of the study were published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Experts divided the OCS into four categories including bad thoughts, repeating/checking, symmetry, and cleaning/contamination.
The study found that more than 20 per cent of youth admitted to having bad intrusive thoughts, including that about picturing violent images, harming oneself or others, or fear that one would do something bad without intending to.
Experts said these were the children who were more likely to develop serious psychopathology beyond obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), including depression and suicide.
Speaking about the study, the principal investigator Raquel Gur, MD, PhD, director of the LiBI and a professor of Psychiatry, Neurology and Radiology in the Perelman School of Medicine, said that their hope is that these results will propel mental health professionals to probe for these symptoms during their patients’ visits as they may be vital for identifying adolescents who are on a downwards spiral towards psychological issues.