Case Study: Obsessive-compulsive Disorder
David is a nine-year-old boy who has been recently diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) by his school's psychologist. OCD occurs in approximately 2 to 3 percent of all children and is considered to be one of the most debilitating of the anxiety disorders (Barrett et. al., 2003, p. 80). Essentially, OCD sufferers are hindered in their everyday activities by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Beyond the sufferers' anxiety caused by what they can often self-identify as unusual behavior, sufferers' anxiety is also increased by the reactions of others to their behaviors. The anxiety caused by these reactions occurs regardless of whether the reaction is meant to be helpful (such as the reactions of parents, friends or other family members) or hurtful (such as the taunting of their peers or the anger of authority figures such as teachers). David's case presents all the classic and confusing symptoms of OCD.
Most researchers agree that OCD is related to the malfunction of biochemical substances in the brain (Valente, 2002, p. 125). These substances or "neurotransmitters" are intended to prepare an individual to react to danger. For example, one particular such substance, norepinephrine, triggers anxiety, nervousness and increased vital signs (Valente, 2002, p. 125). The malfunction of these substances in OCD sufferers means that the OCD child experience sustained, often endless, feelings of anxiety and danger