A 9-Year-Old Girl With Persistent Obsessive and Compulsive Behaviors in a Primary Care Pediatric Practice

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CASE: Chloe is a 9-year-old gal whose mother made an initial visit to a new pediatrician for concerns about her behavior. Chloe is apprehensive about the visit and frequently hides behind her mother.

Her parents first noticed Chloe becoming angry and more emotional 3 years ago, which her parents did not initially understand. However, over the past year, she has started to have more worries and unusual behavior.

Chloe and her mother report that when she walks through doorways, she will almost always go back and walks through again. At home, she will walk through doorways multiple times and at school, she will pretend she forgot something so her friends do not notice. She often will not walk downstairs and occasionally her mother has to carry her. Clothes are problematic for Chloe. If her father touches something of a specific color and then touches Chloe, she will have to change her clothes or take a shower. Sometimes, she will never be able to wear those clothes again. She had a recent episode where she could not stop tapping a red paper, because if she stopped, she said it would burst into flame. During the 2 weeks before the pediatric visit, symptoms increased to the point that she is now refusing to go to school. When she stays home, she lays in 1 place all day.

Chloe is a fourth grade student. The family does not report academic concerns. She has friends. She denies any appetite or sleep problems. She endorses periods of sadness, lack of energy, and decreased interest in social activities, mostly because she worries and is embarrassed. She kept her behaviors hidden from her 5 siblings for the past year, and she talked only to her mother about them. She is worried her friends might discover her behaviors.

The family history is notable for multiple paternal family members with anxiety and bipolar disorder and depression on mother's side. A few months ago, Chloe's family adopted a 7-year-old child with special needs from China.

Her growth, vital signs, and physical examination are unremarkable. Her mother filled out the Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire and the Screen for Child Anxiety-Related Emotional Disorders, which both had elevated scores.

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