Comorbid psychopathology in children and adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has been investigated in a number of studies over the last twenty years. The aim of the present study was to investigate the phenomenology of illness and broader psychopathology in a group of Greek children and adolescents with OCD. The investigation of parental psychopathology in children and adolescents with OCD was a secondary aim of the present study. We studied 31 children and adolescents with OCD (n=31, age range 8–15 years) and their parents (n=62, age range 43–48 years) and compared to children and adolescents with specific reading and written expression learning disorders (n=30, age range 7–16 years) and their parents (n=58, age range 40–46 years). Appropriate testing showed specific reading and learning disorders, which were of mild to moderate severity for the 85% of this latter group. The diagnosis of learning disorder of reading and written expression was made through the use of standardized reading material, appropriate for ages 10–15 years. Reading comprehension and narration were tested. The written expression (spelling, syntax, content) was examined by a written text, in which the subject developed a certain theme from the reading material. Based on their level of education and occupation, the index families were classified as high (29%), average (45%) and low (26%) socioeconomic status, whereas 6.7% of control families belonged to high, 63.3% to average, and 30% to low status. In order to investigate psychopathology, the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School Aged Children, Present and Life-time version was administered to children and their parents, as well as the Child Behavior Checklist 4/18 (CBCL) to both parents and adolescents (Youth Self-Report). Also the Yale– Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y–BOCS) was rated for both children and parents. Moreover, the children were given the Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) and the Revised Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale (RCMAS). In the OCD group, 48% had contamination obsessions, 42% aggressive obsessions and 52% had washing and cleaning compulsions. Moreover, 32% had one additional disorder and 16.1% had two additional disorders. In comparison, only 17.2% of the control group children had one comorbid disorder. The OCD proband group had higher Total Problems score, as well as higher Anxiety/Depression, Thought Problems and Externalizing scores on the CBCL. When proband parents and control parents (29 mothers and 21 fathers) were compared, the percentage of fathers in the clinical range was significantly higher in the study group (Fisher’s exact test: p=0.011, two tailed), whereas for mothers the difference did not attain significance (Fisher’s exact test: p=0.106, two tailed). The fathers and mothers of children with OCD were more clinically affected than those of controls. Mothers of probands differed from controls in compulsions, compared to fathers, who differed in both obsessions and compulsions. Comorbidity rate was higher to children and adolescents with OCD. A considerable number of children and adolescents with OCD had higher symptomatology of anxiety and depression than controls, as well as higher rates of thought problems. Children and adolescents with OCD also exhibited higher rates of externalizing problems. This latter finding is considered as important and needs to be highlighted in terms of case management and treatment. Moreover, the parents of children and adolescents with OCD had more OCD symptomatology than the parents of children and adolescents with learning disorders. The symptomatology of the parents may create difficulties in interactions within the family and become burdensome for a vulnerable child. In turn, the child’s symptomatology may create or increase some of the symptoms in the parents i.e. anxiety and depression. These findings suggest that at least for a percentage of children and adolescents with OCD, parental and especially paternal influence may contribute to the development and severity of their symptoms, not only through hereditary factors but also through the control exerted and the anxiety created in the family context.

Key words: Aggressive behaviour, externalizing problems, children and adolescents, comorbidity, obsessive compulsive disorder. 

D.C. Anagnostopoulos, S. Korlou, K. Sakellariou, V. Kondyli, J. Sarafidou, E. Tsakanikos, G. Giannakopoulos, M. Liakopoulou (page 27) - Full article