Worries and doubts are a normal part of life for most people. But if your child becomes obsessed with them, he or she may have a condition known as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). However, researchers say that a new drug therapy may help treat OCD in children, reports CBS News Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay.
For children, the most common obsessions that may indicate OCD are fears of contamination, concern that something bad is going to happen to the child or a family member, or fears that they have done something incorrectly. To make themselves feel better, they develop compulsive behaviors such as washing their hands several times, or constantly re-arranging the same items.
A study published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association found that the drug sertraline may help.
Zoloft, the brand name of sertraline, is currently used in adults to treat depression.
In the study, researchers tested sertraline's effect on more than 180 children and adolescents with OCD. The results indicate that it significantly reduced their symptoms. After three months, the children taking sertraline were doing two to three times better than those who received a placebo.
Scientists believe that sertraline works by increasing the levels of the chemical serotonin, which helps the different parts of the brain to communicate.
It is important to note that the study reported patients having mild to moderate side effects from the drug. The major complaints were insomnia, nausea, agitation, and tremors. Comparative studies show that children do not suffer from these side effects any more than adults do.
Sertraline is one of three drugs that are approved by the government to help children with OCD. However, individual patients may respond more favorably to one drug than to another.
Parents who suspect their child might have OCD should talk to a pediatrician or a child psychiatrist as soon as possible. Most doctors prescribe a joint therapy of drugs and psychotherapy to treat the disorder.
Reported By Dr. Emily Senay