Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a fairly common mental health condition. It can involve obsessions and rituals that may affect a person’s daily life.

OCD typically involves reoccurring and uncontrollable obsessions and compulsions.

Obsessions are intrusive thoughts that often include a fear of germs or contamination, a fear of losing control, and a desire to have things in a perfect and symmetrical order. Compulsions are behaviors or rituals a person feels the need to perform repeatedly. They may include excessive handwashing or cleaning, compulsive counting, and arranging items in a specific way.

OCD can affect anyone, though it may be more common in certain populations.

This article discusses the prevalence of OCD. It also explores who is more likely to develop the condition and treatment options.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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According to 2001–2003 data from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the lifetime prevalence of OCD among adults in the United States is 2.3%. The annual prevalence is approximately 1.2%.

Another way to look at these statistics is that around 1 in 100 (2–3 million) adults in the United States have OCD.

The International OCD Foundation notes that there is an estimated 1 in 200 children or teens (500,000) in the United States with OCD.

The NIMH also shows that OCD prevalence can break down by the severity of the condition:

  • mild: 14.6%
  • moderate: 34.8%
  • serious: 50.6%

Around 90% of people with OCD also have another co-occurring mental health condition — most often, this is an anxiety disorder.

Read more about OCD and anxiety.

According to the NIMH, females have a higher prevalence of OCD than males.

While anyone can develop OCD, there are age ranges where it is more likely to occur. These include those ages between 8 and 12 years old or people between their late teens and early adulthood.

The average age of onset is typically around 19.5 years old. It is rare for someone to have an initial onset of OCD after the age of 40.

Males may be more likely to experience the onset of OCD at a younger age. Also, postpartum females are two times more likely to develop OCD than the general population.

Other risk factors for OCD include:

  • a family history of OCD
  • biology and brain structure
  • temperament, such as more reserved behaviors or symptoms of anxiety and depression in childhood
  • childhood trauma

Learn more about OCD.

Treatments can help individuals with OCD manage their obsessions and compulsions. It can also help improve their daily functioning and increase their quality of life.

Treatment for OCD typically includes:

Read about the types of OCD.

The following are answers to questions people frequently ask about OCD.

Does OCD ever go away?

OCD is typically a lifelong condition. With treatment, people can learn ways to manage their symptoms. Most individuals who receive treatment report a waxing and waning of symptoms. Around 50% of people who receive effective treatment for OCD still experience residual symptoms.

Does OCD get worse with age?

OCD does not necessarily worsen with age, though symptoms can vary over time. Most people with OCD, especially those who receive successful treatment, experience waxing and waning symptoms.

Mental health resources

Visit our dedicated hub for more research-backed information and resources on mental health and well-being.

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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a fairly common mental health condition. According to certain data, it has a prevalence in around 2% of the United States population. Females may be more likely to develop OCD than males. However, males may be more likely to experience an earlier onset of the condition than females.

OCD most commonly has an onset either between the ages of 8 and 12 or in the late teens and early adulthood. People rarely experience onset after the age of 40.

There are treatment options available to help manage the symptoms of OCD. With effective treatment, individuals can see a reduction in symptoms and learn ways to manage the intrusive thoughts that occur with OCD.