<< Return to OCD Resource Guide

How many people have OCD?

Dr. Amy Funkenstein, MD, answers the question, “How common is OCD?”

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is quite common; among adults, nearly 1 out of 40 adults, or 2 to 3 million adults in the United States, are diagnosed with OCD at some point in their lives. Among children and teenagers, 1 in 200, or about 500,000 children and teenagers, have OCD.

See below for additional information on the prevalence of OCD.

Prevalence of OCD among adults

  • Lifetime prevalence: Among adults in the United States, 1 in 40, or 2.3% of adults have OCD at some point in their lives. This is approximately 2 to 3 million adults.

  • Past year prevalence: In any given year, an estimated 1.2% of U.S. adults have OCD.

  • Prevalence of OCD symptoms: Over 25% of adults (60 million) experience OCD symptoms, even if they do not meet the formal criteria to be diagnosed with OCD.

  • Past year prevalence by gender: Past year prevalence of OCD is higher for females (1.8%) than for males (0.5%).

Prevalence of OCD among children

  • Prevalence among children: Among children and teenagers in the United States, 1 in 200 (500,000), or 0.5% of children, have OCD.

  • Age of onset: OCD can appear at any age, although it is most common at two age ranges: between the ages of 8 and 12 and between late teen years to early adulthood. New cases are less common after age 40.

  • Symptoms in children: About 30% of individuals with OCD first experience signs and symptoms during childhood, with some showing obsessive traits during pre-school years.

Other statistics related to prevalence of OCD

  • Prevalence worldwide: OCD ranks among the 10 leading causes of disability worldwide.

  • Prevalence compared to other diagnoses: OCD is the fourth most common psychiatric diagnosis, after phobias, substance abuse and major depression.

  • Gender and race: OCD does not discriminate by gender or race.

Severity of OCD among adults

  • Severity of OCD among adults: Among adults with OCD, nearly two-thirds (65.3%) reported severe impairment to their functioning in at least one are of life. These include home management, work, relationships, and social life.

  • Type of impairment: Among those with severe OCD, relationships and social life were most affected. Adults with moderate impairment were most impacted in the area of home management.

Treatment for OCD

  • Less than 10% of those with obsessions or compulsions will seek treatment.

  • The average person will wait 6 to 9 years before seeking any form of treatment.

OCD affects a significant number of children and adults, and is often a seriously impairing disorder, both personally and professionally. While there is no cure for OCD, there are effective treatments available through exposure and response prevention and medication management, specifically, SSRIs. In most cases, OCD symptoms can be successfully managed with a combination of behavioral therapy and medication.


Sources

  • Lifetime and past year prevalence of OCD among adults and children.
    • Harvard Medical School, 2007. National Comorbidity Survey (NCSSC). (2017, August 21).
    • National Institute of Mental Health.
  • Role impairment among individuals with OCD.
    • 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(1), 53-63.
  • Prevalence of OCD among children.
    • International OCD Foundation. (2018). Who Gets OCD?
  • Age of OCD onset.
    • International OCD Foundation. (2018). Who Gets OCD?
  • Prevalence of symptoms.
    • Beyond OCD. (2018). Who is Affected by OCD?
  • Prevalence of OCD worldwide.
    • Murray CJ, Lopez AD. The Global Burden of Disease: A Comprehensive Assessment of Mortality and Morbidity from Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors in 1990 and Projected to 2020. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; 1996.
  • Prevalence compared to other diagnoses.
    • Christopher Pittenger, MD, PhD, Ben Kelmendi, BS, Michael Bloch, MD, John H. Krystal, MD, and Vladimir Coric, MD. Clinical Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2005 Nov; 2(11): 34–43.
  • Seeking treatment for OCD.
    • Designed Thinking. (2012). OCD Facts and Statistical Data.

Find OCD therapists near you