Child psychiatrists, adolescent medicine physicians, psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals usually diagnose anxiety disorders in children or adolescents following a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation.
Parents who note signs of severe anxiety or obsessive or compulsive behaviors in their child or adolescent can help by seeking an evaluation and treatment early. Early treatment can often prevent future problems.
In order for a diagnosis of OCD to be made, the obsessions and compulsions must be pervasive, severe, and disruptive enough that the individual's activities of daily living and function (including school performance) are adversely affected.
In most cases, the activities involved with the disorder (hand washing, checking the locks on the doors) consume more than one hour each day and cause psychological distress and impaired mental functioning.
In most cases, adults realize that their behaviors are unusual to some degree. However, often, younger individuals do not have this critical ability to judge this type of behavior as irrational and abnormal.