Interesting Obsessive-Compulsive disorder facts: OCD facts

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder facts. OCD facts

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder facts. OCD facts

Finding reliable Obsessive-compulsive disorder facts (OCD facts) is difficult these days, because most websites simply copy paste OCD facts from other websites without even checking them. The OCD facts on this page are all backed by scientific articles and are updated from time to time.
Obsessive-Compulsive disorder (OCD) is a distressing and chronic disorder that affects around 2.3% of the US population and 1.9-3.1% of the UK population, between ages 18- 54 [11].

Because of how disruptive the symptoms of OCD are, many of those who suffer the symptoms struggle to maintain healthy relationships and careers. This can often lead to them leaving their jobs, ending close relationships, and becoming dependent upon state-funded programs for help. That being said, with the right treatment and support, individuals with OCD and their symptoms can move past the disorder and return to their lives as normal. OCD is a mental disorder that is often linked to other disorders, such as mood, anxiety, impulse control, and substance use disorders. Though linked however, they are not mutually exclusive. In this article, interesting OCD facts and its prevalence with the world is presented as follows:
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At Barends Psychology Practice treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive disorder is offered (also online). Go to contact us to schedule a first, free of charge, first session. (Depending on your health insurance, treatment may be reimbursed).


OCD facts – Prevalence in the USA.

In one study looking at the prevalence of OCD in accordance with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), it was found that among people presenting with lifetime OCD symptoms versus 12-month OCD symptoms, only 2.3% of lifetime and 1.2% of 12 months met the criteria [1].

  • A study found that there are higher cases of women developing OCD (1.5%) than men (1%) [11].
  • The age of onset of OCD is typically reported as 6 – 15 for males and 20 – 29 for females [1].
  • The lifetime prevalence of OCD symptoms is 28.8%, with the median age of onset at 11 years old [7].
  • The strongest predictor of lifetime OCD is age (children and adolescents were not included), with the odds of onset highest for the age range 18–29 (12.0) and decreasing greatly among those aged 30–44 (7.6), 45–59 (4.9), and 60+ (1.0) [1].
  • The lifetime OCD respondents estimate spending an average of 5.9 h per day occupied by obsessions and 4.6 h per day engaging in compulsions during the past year [1].
  • Most common among Non-Hispanic Whites (1.0%), with Non-Hispanic Blacks (0.8%) and Hispanics (0.7%) coming after [7].

  • There are nine OCD categories of symptoms, with the most common being checking (15.4%), hoarding (14.4%), or ordering (9.1%) [1].
  • Rarer OCD symptoms are associated with a higher risk of OCD [1].
  • These risks are at their highest with harming (33.8%) and sexual or religious (29.6%) and for ‘other’ whose content was not specified by respondents (38.9%) [1].
  • In addition, the risks of being diagnosed with OCD greatly increases (from 7.4 to 36.4%) if the individual has more than one Obsessive or Compulsive symptom [1].

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OCD facts – Prevalence in Europe.

In another study [2], looking at the prevalence of OCD symptoms in 6 European countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Italia, The Netherlands, and Spain), the following was found.

  • Out of 2804 individuals, 13% were found to have OCD symptoms [2].
  • Of that 13%, the following types of OCD were most common:
    • 1. Harm to self or others/ checking rituals and obsessions (7.8%),
    • 2. Somatic obsessions (worries about your own/ someone else’s physical health) (4.6%),
    • 3. Symmetry/ ordering (3.1%), and
    • 4. Contamination/ Cleaning (2.6%) [2].
  • OCD symptoms were most common among those ages: 25-49 (44.8%) and 50+ (43.8%) [2].
  • With regards to gender, the following had OCD symptoms: Women (52.1%) and Men (47.9%) [2].
  • With regards to income, OCD symptoms were most common among: Average earners (31.4% – 32.3%), followed by Low earners (19.5%), and High earners (16.8%) [2].


OCD facts – Demographics Brazil.

Men and women presented a similar occurrence of OCD symptoms but differed in types of OCD [6].

  • As a demographic, men were more likely to be single, present an early onset of symptoms and a chronic course of the disorder, greater social impairment, more sexual/religious and aggression symptoms, and greater comorbidity with tics and substance abuse [6].
  • As a demographic, women were more likely to have contamination/ cleaning symptoms and have a greater comorbidity with eating disorders and impulse control disorders [6].


OCD facts – Comorbidity

Comorbidity refers to how connected certain illnesses are to one-another. For example, the comorbidity between obesity and diabetes is very high, as those suffering from obesity are at a great risk of developing diabetes. But the comorbidity between colon cancer and infant blindness is practically non-existence. In the European study of 6 countries, individuals were asked if they also suffered from other illnesses or disorders. Their results are as follows:

  • Anxiety disorders: no (85.9%) versus yes (14.1%). The yes-group has more severe OCD symptoms [2].
  • Mood disorders: no (86.5%) versus yes (13.5%). The yes-group has more severe OCD symptoms [2].
  • Mental disorders: yes (74.1%) versus no (25.9%). The yes-group has more severe OCD symptoms [2].
  • Chronic physical conditions: yes (70.5%) versus no (29.5%). The yes-group has more severe OCD symptoms [2].

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  • The most common disorders linked to OCD in the United States are anxiety disorders (75.8%), followed by mood disorders (63.3%), impulse-control disorders (55.9%), and substance use disorders (38.6%) [1].
  • Another study found the following percentages at which those suffering OCD were found to suffer other psychological disorders: Major depression (69%), Bipolar disorder (16.2%), Generalized Anxiety disorder (14.8%), Agoraphobia (19.8%), Social phobia (24.5%), PTSD (9.4%), Alcohol abuse/ dependency (23.6%), Substance abuse/ dependency (15.8%), and Eating disorders (15.5%) [10].


OCD facts – Treatment

  • Psychological treatment, such as CBT, Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and Cognitive Therapy, are effective OCD treatments. They significantly reduce symptoms related to obsessions, compulsions, and also general anxiety, depression, and social adjustment [3].
  • The most common psychological treatment for OCD is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) [14].
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is significantly more effective than medication and no-treatment [15].
  • Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is more effective than SRI medication or placebo [4]. ERP involves having the sufferer gradually being exposed to their feared scenario, in a controlled and safe environment, allowing them to develop new and healthy ways of coping with their anxiety [4].
  • One study in New Zealand found that diet and nutrition can have a very strong influence on OCD symptoms and their severity [5].


  • Nearly half of 12-month OCD cases (49.2%) in the United States reported receiving treatment for emotional problems during the past year [1].
  • In the US treatment rates were much higher for cases rated severe (93.0%) than moderate (25.6%), although only a minority of either severe (30.9%) or moderate (2.9%) cases received treatment specifically for OCD [1].
  • The pattern is similar for lifetime mental health treatment in the US, which was obtained by nearly three quarters (72.7%) of lifetime OCD cases but which specifically targeted OCD in less than one-third (29.2%) of cases [1].
  • Only 6.4% of lifetime cases in the US reported lifetime hospitalization for OCD [1].


OCD facts – Risk factors

  • Family and Genetics: Twin and family studies have found that people with direct relatives (parent, sibling, or child) who have OCD are at a higher risk for developing OCD themselves. This risk is even higher if the direct relative developed OCD as a child or teen [8]. A review study done of over 70 years’ worth of genetic research on Twin studies found: 1. Adult twins presenting with OCD symptoms had a 25-47% chance of having inherited the symptoms [8]. 2. Child twins presenting with OCD symptoms had a much higher rate of 45-65% chance of having inherited their symptoms [8].
  • The Brain: Research studying imagines of the brain have found that people who suffer OCD show different and often excessive activity in the front parts of their brain, in comparison to non-OCD sufferers [12].
  • Stress and Trauma: People who have suffered abuse or other traumas in their childhood are at an increased risk of OCD, compared to people without such a history [13].


  • Students with higher grades were found to be more likely to have/develop OCD symptoms [9].
  • Between the ages of 5 and 15 saw an expediential growth in the risk of developing OCD symptoms [9].
  • Adults were found to be at a reduced risk of the development of OCD symptoms as they aged [9].
  • It is also greatly recognized that more women than men suffer OCD/ OCD symptoms, however no definitive percentage has been found as there is only a small difference [9].

  • The onset of OCD symptoms can also be greatly affected by drug abuse, particularly alcohol abuse [9].
  • OCD is more common among those who are unemployed. However, it is not clear which causes which [9].


OCD facts – Literature

  • [1] Ruscio, A. M., Stein, D. J., Chiu, W. T., & Kessler, R. C. (2010). The epidemiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Molecular psychiatry, 15, 53-63.
  • [2] Fullana, M. A., Vilagut, G., Rojas-Farreras, S., Mataix-Cols, D., De Graaf, R., Demyttenaere, K., … & Alonso, J. (2010). Obsessive–compulsive symptom dimensions in the general population: Results from an epidemiological study in six European countries. Journal of affective disorders, 124, 291-299.
  • [3] Rosa-Alcázar, A. I., Sánchez-Meca, J., Gómez-Conesa, A., & Marín-Martínez, F., 2008. Psychological treatment of obsessive–compulsive disorder: a meta-analysis. Clinical psychology review, 28, 1310-1325.
  • [4] Abramowitz, J. S. (2006). The Psychological Treatment of Obsessive—Compulsive Disorder. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 51, 407-416.
  • [5] Rucklidge, J. J. (2009). Successful treatment of OCD with a micronutrient formula following partial response to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): a case study. Journal of anxiety disorders, 23, 836-840.
  • More Articles:

  • [6] Mathis, M. A. D., Alvarenga, P. D., Funaro, G., Torresan, R. C., Moraes, I., Torres, A. R., … & Hounie, A. G. (2011). Gender differences in obsessive-compulsive disorder: a literature review. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, 33, 390-399.
  • [7] Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Merikangas, K. R., & Walters, E. E. (2005). Lifetime prevalence and age-of- onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of general psychiatry, 62, 593-602.
  • [8] van Grootheest, D. S., Cath, D. C., Beekman, A. T., & Boomsma, D. I. (2005). Twin studies on obsessive–compulsive disorder: a review. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 8, 450-458.
  • [9] Fontenelle, L. F., & Hasler, G. (2008). The analytical epidemiology of obsessive–compulsive
    disorder: risk factors and correlates. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 32, 1-15.
  • [10] Hasler, G., LaSalle-Ricci, V. H., Ronquillo, J. G., Crawley, S. A., Cochran, L. W., Kazuba, D., … & Murphy, D. L. (2005). Obsessive–compulsive disorder symptom dimensions show specific relationships to psychiatric comorbidity. Psychiatry research, 135, 121-132.
  • [11] Singleton N, Bumpstead R, O’Brien M, Lee A, Meltzer H., 2000. Psychiatric morbidity among adults living in private households, 2000. London: The Stationery Office.
  • [12] Veale, D. M., Sahakian, B. J., Owen, A. M., & Marks, I. M., 1996. Specific cognitive deficits in tests sensitive to frontal lobe dysfunction in obsessive–compulsive disorder. Psychological medicine, 26, 1261-1269.)
  • [13] de Silva, P., & Marks, M. (1999). The role of traumatic experiences in the genesis of obsessive–compulsive disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 37, 941-951.
  • [14] Franklin, M. E., Rynn, M. O. I. R. A., Foa, E. B., & March, J. S., 2003. Treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder. Cognitive therapy with children and adolescents: A casebook for clinical practice, 162-188.
  • [15] Watson, H. J., & Rees, C. S., 2008.. Meta‐analysis of randomized, controlled treatment trials for pediatric obsessive‐compulsive disorder. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, 489-498