How Many People Have OCD? OCD Demographics

Reviewed by Melinda (Santa) Gladden, LCSW

Published 06/24/2022

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a mental health condition or disorder characterized by obsessions, compulsions, and other symptoms, such as intrusive thoughts or mental images. Looking at OCD demographics can be advantageous because it can show you that you are not alone in your experiences. Additionally, it can serve as educational information when learning about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Here is some information about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and whom it affects.

Who Suffers From OCD?

Woman Wearing Face Mask While Cleaning the Kitchen

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can affect anyone. While certain risk factors can increase the likelihood that someone will develop OCD, a disorder does not discriminate. If you live with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, it is not your fault. Here are some statistics on OCD and who suffers from it:

  • About 30% of people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder first experience symptoms during childhood.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can affect people of all ages, but the average age of onset for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is 19.
  • According to the AADA, 25% of cases of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder occur by the age of 14.
  • Many people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder have a comorbid or co-occurring mental health condition. Common comorbidities seen in those with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder include but are not limited to depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder.

That said, while some known risk factors can put you at a higher likelihood of developing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, anyone could develop Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder at any time. Risk factors for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder that can make you more likely to develop Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder include a family history of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, environmental factors, and more.

What Are The Different Types Of OCD?

There are various ways that Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can manifest, including but not limited to:

Contamination OCD: Contamination OCD is when Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder manifests with contamination obsessions and compulsions to avoid contamination, which often includes excessive washing, avoidance of touching or meeting certain objects, and so on.

Symmetry OCD: Symmetry OCD is when Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder manifests with obsessions related to ordering and compulsions to create order, such as arranging objects until they are “just right.”

Pondering female secretary picking folder in workplace

Harm OCD: Harm OCD is when Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder manifests with harm obsessions and checking compulsions to avoid harm from occurring, such as calling family members repeatedly to ensure that they are okay, checking doors to make sure that they are locked, and checking appliances to make sure they are off and cannot start a fire, and so on.

Purely Obsessive OCD (“Pure O”): Purely obsessive OCD, often nicknamed “pure O,” is when Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder manifests with obsessions and without visible compulsions. Someone with purely obsessive Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder often experiences mental compulsions instead of compulsions that can be seen.

Religious OCD: Religious OCD is when Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder manifests with obsessions and compulsions related to religion or religious values. Someone with this manifestation of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder may ruminate over things they said to make sure that they would not have any negative religious consequences or repeat phrases obsessively.

Relationship OCD: Relationship OCD is when Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder manifests with obsessions related to relationships. Someone with this manifestation of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder may obsess over if their partner is right for them or if their partner loves them or not, for example, even if the evidence is there to show that their partner is right for them and that they do love them.

This is not an extensive list of every Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder subtype. With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, it is important to remember that obsessions and compulsions differ from person to person.

Similar or Related Disorders

There are a number of disorders that are related to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder used to be diagnosed under the category of anxiety disorders. In the most recent version of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders or DSM, the DSM-5, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and related disorders are diagnosed under “obsessive-compulsive and related disorders. Disorders related to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder that are not Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder include:

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), a disorder where a real or perceived flaw in one’s physical appearance causes significant distress and impairment in areas such as work, school, interests, or interpersonal relationships.

Trichotillomania (Hair-Pulling Disorder), a disorder where someone pulls out their hair, whether that is on their head, eyebrows, or other areas of the body.

Excoriation (Skin-Picking) Disorder, a disorder where someone picks their skin to the extent that it may lead to scars, infections, and more.

Hoarding Disorder, a disorder characterized by hoarding behaviors.

Tissue Hoarders

Other disorders diagnosed in this category include Substance/Medication-Induced Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition, Other Specified Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorder, and Unspecified Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorder.

Which Gender Does OCD Affect More?

People of all genders can suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The split between males and females who live with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is nearly equal. However, men with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder typically have an earlier age of onset.

How Many People Have OCD Worldwide?

It is unknown as to exactly how many people have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder globally, but it is suggested that about 2% of people worldwide have OCD. Again, anyone can develop Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and it does not discriminate based on location or other similar factors. What does differ is that treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and other mental disorders is more accessible in some areas than in others. The same goes for access to a diagnosis. That said, certain risk factors could increase the likelihood that an individual will have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The risk factors that can increase the likelihood that someone will develop Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD include but are not limited to a family history of OCD, personal history of another mental health condition, and life circumstances trauma.

Where Is OCD Most Common?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released statistics on the prevalence of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD in different countries. It is hard to know the exact number of people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in any particular country or US state due to a number of factors such as access to diagnosis among individuals who may be living with OCD. Still, again, it is said that 2% of people worldwide have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD.

OCD United States Statistics

Here are some OCD demographics and statistics that are specific to the United States population:

  • Roughly, one out of every 40 adults in the United States has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
  • Roughly, one out of every 100 children in the United States has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
  • The severity of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can vary. According to statistics on the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website, about 50.6% of those with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder experienced serious or severe impairment, where 34.8% experienced moderate impairment, and 14.6% experienced mild impairment.

With treatment, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder symptoms can improve. Many people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder live full, happy lives.

How Is OCD Treated?

There are a number of known treatments for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. However, the most commonly used therapy for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a subtype of cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT called exposure and response prevention therapy or ERP. For all information regarding specific treatments and therapies, please consult a medical or mental health professional.  

To find a therapist or counselor in your area who works with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, you may:

  • See your general doctor and ask for a referral to a counselor or therapist
  • Conduct an online search for therapists or counselors near you that specialize in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder with a search term like, “OCD treatment near me” or “OCD therapist near me”
  • Contact your insurance provider or visit their website to see who takes your insurance in terms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder specialists
  • Use an online provider directory to search for someone who works with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder near you

You may also use the provider search tool in the upper right-hand corner of the Mind Diagnostics website, utilize the resource directory tool on the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) website, or pursue counseling or therapy licensed mental health provider through an online therapy website like Better Help.

Person Writing on Notebook

There are ways for low-income people and families to get mental health care. Some free or low-cost options include:

  • Getting therapy or counseling through an educational institution, such as a college or university.
  • Getting therapy or counseling through a religious institution or organization, such as your church.
  • Getting therapy or counseling through a community center in your local area.
  • Seeing a therapist or counselor who offers services on a sliding scale basis.

There are also support groups and online forums that operate free. While support groups and online forums are forms of peer support that cannot replace treatment from a mental health professional, they can provide a life-changing sense of community and support.

Take the Mind Diagnostics Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Test

Do you think that you might have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder? If so, consider taking the Mind Diagnostics Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder test. Although Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder affects people of all ages, the Mind Diagnostics Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder test is for those aged 18 and older. The Mind Diagnostics Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder test cannot replace a diagnosis from a medical or mental health professional, but taking the test might just be the first step to getting the help you need. Taking the test is free, fast, and confidential.

Click here to take the Mind Diagnostics Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder test.