COVID-19 may worsen symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder in adolescents

Adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder have noticed that their symptoms worsen during a pandemic, like that of COVID-19, new research by Aarhus University suggests.

The study began with the administering of questionnaires to two groups of young patients up to the age of 21 with OCD, totaling 102 respondents. The findings were released in the journal BMC Psychiatry.

In the questionnaires, researchers aimed to understand how the participants responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and if their symptoms worsened as a result. The most commonly exhibited symptoms of their OCD included manifestations of health anxiety and depression, like excessive hand washing and feelings of social isolation.

“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,” Judith Nissen, co-author of the study, stated in a news release.

According to the research team at Aarhus University, the symptoms associated with OCD the participants had experienced, worsened significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The increase in symptoms was reported by nearly half of the participants in one group and the majority in the second group.

In several other studies, the COVID-19 pandemic has also been associated with the potential development of psychiatric disorders, however, more research is needed to validate such assertions.