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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) occurs when individuals have recurring thoughts they can’t control, along with behaviors they feel compelled to do repeatedly.

Roughly half of all individuals in the U.S. with OCD have experienced severe impairment due to this disorder. On a global scale, roughly 2 percent of the general population has OCD.

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Prevalence Of OCD

  • In the U.S., OCD occurs in roughly 1 to 3 percent of children and adolescents. The average age of onset among children is around 10 years of age.
  • Among adults aged 18 and over in the U.S., roughly 1.2 percent have had OCD. The lifetime prevalence of OCD is 2.3 percent.
  • The rate of OCD is highest among adults between 18 and 29 years of age. In this age group, the rate is 1.5 percent.
  • For adults between ages 30 and 44, the rate is 1.4 percent. For adults between ages 45 and 59, the rate is 1.1 percent.
  • The rate among adults who are 60 years old and up is 0.5 percent.
  • Roughly 50.6 percent of adults with OCD experienced severe impairment with this disorder. Roughly 38.4 percent experienced moderate impairment, while roughly 14.6 percent experienced mild impairment.
  • The average age of OCD onset among adults is 19. Roughly one quarter of OCD cases begin occurring by 14 years of age.
  • Around a third of adults began experiencing OCD symptoms during childhood.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder In Men And Women

  • Women in the U.S. have an OCD rate of 1.8 percent.
  • Men in the U.S. have an OCD rate of 0.5 percent.
  • Men typically begin developing symptoms of OCD at a younger age compared to women.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder In Specific Populations

OCD research has shown differences in the symptoms of this disorder among African-American populations:

  • Roughly 7.9 percent experienced contamination obsessions, while 8.29 percent experienced obsessions that mainly involved unacceptable thoughts.
  • Roughly 10.63 percent experienced compulsions that involved checking or washing, while 5.19 percent experienced compulsions that involved arranging items.
  • Around 3.53 percent experienced compulsions that involved counting, while 6.85 percent experienced compulsions involving repeating words.
  • In general, 12.5 percent of African Americans experienced any type of obsession, while 15.3 percent experienced any type of compulsion.
  • African Americans between 18 and 34 years of age had a higher likelihood of experiencing contamination obsessions compared to those 55 and older.
  • Those between 18 and 34 years old and those between 35 and 54 years old had a higher likelihood of experiencing obsessions involving unacceptable thoughts compared to those 55 and older.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder And The Rate Of Co-occurring Conditions

OCD often co-occurs along with other types of disorders, including depression, anxiety disorders, and tic disorders like Tourette syndrome:

  • Around 26 percent of children who participated in studies at the National Institutes of Health did not have any co-occurring psychiatric disorders. Roughly 74 percent did have a co-occurring psychiatric disorder.
  • Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders (PANDAS) are thought to be linked to OCD. Between 30 and 79 percent of those with PANDAS experience obsessive-compulsive traits.
  • Some research suggests that PANDAS might be associated with the onset of childhood OCD and tic disorders.
  • OCD often co-occurs with another type of anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders affect roughly 19.1 percent of adults in the U.S. Generalized anxiety disorder affects roughly 2.7 percent of adults in the U.S.
  • OCD can co-occur with depression. Major depressive disorder affects around 6.8 percent of adults in the U.S.
  • Tourette syndrome commonly co-occurs with OCD in adults and children. Roughly one-third of those with Tourette syndrome also have OCD.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Treatment Facts

Treatment options for OCD include medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or another psychotherapy, or a combination of both:

  • Between 40 and 50 percent of children taking serotonergic medication, such as fluoxetine or clomipramine, achieved remission from OCD symptoms.
  • Another study found that using CBT to address OCD in children, especially when family members were involved, led to remission rates of between 75 and 88 percent.