Covid-19 has triggered condition of OCD, anxiety in young adults and children: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on November 10, 2020 Published on November 10, 2020

Young adults and children with obsessive thoughts have witnessed their OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) rise manifold amidst the Covid-19 crisis, as per the study conducted by the researchers at Aarhus University and the Centre for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Central Denmark Region.

The findings of the study, published in BMC Psychiatry, suggest that Covid-19 has triggered trauma and stress and worsen OCD condition.

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The researchers also mentioned that Covid-19 may be associated with adults developing psychiatric disorders.

For the study, the researchers carried a survey of two groups of children and young people between the ages of seven and 21. One group had been diagnosed with OCD in a specialised OCD section at the Centre for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry - and all had been in contact with a therapist at the hospital.

The other group was identified through the Danish OCD Association. The majority of these children and young people had been diagnosed years ago. A total of 102 children responded to the survey.

Lead author Per Hove Thomsen said in a statement: “Their experience was that their OCD, anxiety and depressive symptoms worsened during a crisis like Covid-19. This worsening was most pronounced for the group identified through the OCD Association.”

The researchers found that almost half of the children and young people who belonged to the first group reported that their symptoms had become worse. While a third of them replied that their anxiety had worsened and a third that their depressive symptoms had worsened.

Of these, almost a fifth experienced that both symptoms had got worse. In the other group, 73 per cent reported that their condition had worsened, just over half that their anxiety had worsened, and 43 per cent answered that the depressive symptoms had increased.

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OCD condition

Elaborating on OCD, another author Judith Nissen, who is a consultant, said: “The disorder is particularly interesting to study in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic, because OCD is a disorder with many different clinical expressions, including not least health anxiety, fear of bacteria and dirt, and excessive hand washing/use of disinfection. It’s therefore important to examine how such a significant crisis can affect the expression, frequency, and progression of the disorder.”

The study revealed that children who had begun suffering from OCD at an early age experienced the most pronounced worsening.

“For children who are already anxious about loss, the daily descriptions in the media of illness and death and recommendations about isolation and focus on infection can exacerbate these anxious thoughts, perhaps also especially for the youngest children, who may have greater difficulty understanding the significance of the infection, but who are also very dependent on parents and grandparents and thus are most vulnerable to lose,” says Judith Nissen.

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Published on November 10, 2020
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