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Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Children)

Anxiety and Eating Disorders

09/10/2007

Question:

My husband's son is 11 years old. He is constantly worrying about germs, or washing dishes before eating off of them, he won`t eat anything out of his hands. He is proud of the fact when he breathes in you can see his ribs and that he is skinny. We have only seen a change in him since the last Christmas holiday he stayed with us and an accident ocurred when he cut the top of his finger off, but the finger has grown back fine. He lives with his mother, four hours from us, she too I`ve heard has thing with germs and food. (worrying of becomimg fat) This is concern to us because he talks about wanting to come visit but when the time comes he chicken`s out, he just wants his father to go see him. And he won`t travel with anyone execpt his mother or father.

Answer:

It sounds as if the child you describe has obsessive-compulsive disorder and perhaps other anxiety disorders in addition. This condition is readily treatable with either medication (antidepressants) or talk therapy (cognitive behavioral therapy). Obsessions with food are common, and in males rarely lead to anorexia. However, none of the behaviors you describe are either normal or healthy. You should speak with a healthcare professional to determine if the child does have OCD and what kind of treatments are right for him.

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Response by:

Floyd R Sallee, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati