OCD Statistics: How Common Is OCD?

Reviewed by Dawn Brown, LPC, NCC

Published 06/27/2022

Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is a common mental health condition. Statistics indicate that roughly 2.3% of the United States population has obsessive-compulsive disorder. It can impact people of all ages and walks of life. A number of celebrities, including Daniel Radcliffe, Fiona Apple, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Megan Fox, have all opened up about having obsessive-compulsive disorder. Despite this, there are a number of widespread misconceptions about OCD, and many people don’t have a substantial amount of understanding or information about the condition. In this article, we will cover OCD symptoms, subtypes of the disorder, and important statistics on OCD and the prevalence of OCD to know about.

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is defined by the presence of obsessions, compulsions, or both. A person with OCD will experience obsessions and intrusive thoughts or impulses and will attempt to suppress, neutralize, or manage these obsessions by performing compulsions or compulsive behaviors. It is not the same as obsessive-compulsive personality disorder or OCPD. Here are some symptoms affiliated with OCD:

  • Obsessions
  • Compulsive behavior
  • Rituals or ritualistic behavior
  • Intrusive thoughts and images
  • Repeating words, phrases, or actions
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Feelings of fear, guilt, or depression
  • Social withdrawal or isolation from others

To be diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, you must meet the diagnostic criteria for obsessive-compulsive disorder that is written in the most recent version of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders or DSM. To view the current diagnostic criteria of OCD, as well as a comparison between the diagnostic criteria for OCD in the DSM IV and the current criteria in the DSM V, click here.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Subtypes

There are a number of different ways that OCD can manifest. These subtypes of OCD vary based on what a person’s obsessions and compulsions surround or are related to. Here are some of the common manifestations or subtypes of OCD:

Contamination OCD, which is a subtype of OCD that is characterized by obsessions with contamination and compulsions that relieve or avoid the potential of contamination. Examples of compulsions that may occur in those with contamination OCD include handwashing, throwing away items that they believe are contaminated, excessive sanitizing, and so on. This is one of the most commonly spoken about types of OCD, and it impacts about 25% of OCD sufferers.

Harm OCD with checking compulsions, which is a subtype of OCD where someone is obsessed with potential harm. Someone with this form of OCD may fear being harmed themselves, or they may fear the harm of a loved one. For example, someone with harm OCD may worry about intruders breaking into their home and might check their locks and windows repetitively to make sure that they’re locked or may place heavy items in front of the doors to make sure that no one can get in. They may also fear that they will harm their family member if they do not engage in certain rituals or compulsions.

Symmetry OCD with ordering compulsions, which is much what it sounds like. Someone with this type of OCD may be obsessed with symmetry or order, and they may spend one hour or more per day ordering items or attempting to get things just right. This isn’t just pickiness; as with all forms of OCD, the subtype of OCD can impact a person’s ability to engage in daily life activities and interfere with her ability to function.

Purely obsessive OCD, which is sometimes nicknamed or referred to as “Pure O,” is a form of OCD that occurs when someone has obsessions that impact their daily life and ability to function but does not have notable, prevalent, or visible compulsions. Instead, a sufferer may experience mental compulsions or rituals. People with purely obsessive OCD will experience intrusive thoughts and obsessions that affect their lives significantly.

There are a number of different other ways that OCD can manifest, including religious OCD, sexuality OCD, relationship OCD, and so on. In the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders or DSM, you will notice that the category OCD is placed in is called obsessive-compulsive and related disorders. Some disorders that are related to OCD but are not considered OCD themselves are body dysmorphic disorder and disorders characterized by body-focused repetitive behaviors, such as trichotillomania (hair-pulling). The good news about OCD, no matter what subtype you have, is that although there is no known cure, OCD treatment is available.

Statistics on OCD

You know that OCD impacts a significant portion of the United States population, but what about other OCD statistics and facts? Here are some facts and statistics on OCD to know about:

  • OCD impacts roughly one out of every 40 adults aged 18 and older.
  • OCD impacts roughly 1 out of every 100 children.
  • Family history, among other potential risk factors, increases the likelihood that someone will have OCD.
  • About 90% of those 18+ who have experienced OCD have a comorbid or co-occurring mental health diagnosis, meaning that they have multiple mental health diagnoses.
  • Some common comorbidities seen in those with OCD include mood disorders and anxiety disorders.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD used to be considered an anxiety disorder. In the most recent version of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, which is the DSM five, OCD was placed into the aforementioned new category called obsessive-compulsive and related disorders.

Treatment For OCD

As with any other medical or mental health disorder, treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder will look different for everyone. That said, one of the most prevalent and effective treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT called exposure and response prevention therapy or ERP therapy*. Exposure and response prevention therapy is a form of therapy that focuses on symptom reduction when exposure to triggers occurs and distress tolerance. To find a therapist or counselor who works with obsessive-compulsive disorder, there are a variety of routes that you can take. Here are some of the ways to find an OCD therapist or counselor:

  • Search the web for “OCD counselors near me” or “OCD therapists near me”
  • Contact your insurance company or visit their website to see which providers they cover
  • Go to your primary care physician or a general doctor and ask for a referral to a counselor or therapist
  • Use an online directory of mental health professionals, or use a provider search tool such as the one in the upper right-hand corner of the mind diagnostics website
  • Consider trying an online therapy company, such as BetterHelp, which will pair you with a licensed provider after you finish taking a questionnaire.

Organizations such as the International OCD Foundation or IOCDF May be able to help you access treatment and extensive information about OCD. The International OCD Foundation website has a variety of resources, including books about OCD for sufferers and professionals, articles by experts that are about some of the different subtypes of OCD, and resources that can help you find treatment. Remember that OCD is a common condition and that if you struggle with OCD, you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help, and know that it is possible for OCD symptoms to improve.

Other Types Of OCD Support And Help

If you have obsessive-compulsive disorder, you might consider supplementary support and help tools in conjunction with therapy or psychiatry. Here are some supplementary support or help options for those with OCD to use in conjunction with therapy, or to turn to when you are searching for a therapist and have not yet found one:

  • Support groups. You can find support groups for those with OCD that meet online, or you can find support groups for OCD that meet in person. Support groups are an excellent way to meet people who are going through the same thing and feel less alone.
  • Online forums. Online forums are another excellent way to find peer support from the privacy of your own home. Popular online forums for OCD include the OCD forum on mentalhealthforum.net, the UK-based OCD Action forum, and the Health Unlocked
  • Self-help books. There are a number of self-help books and workbooks for OCD that you may find beneficial if you have obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some popular books on OCD include “Freedom From Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” by Jonathan Grayson, “The OCD Workbook” by Bruce M. Hyman and Cherry Pedrick, and “The Perfectionist’s Handbook by” Jeff Szymanski.

Take The Mind Diagnostics OCD Test

After learning about OCD and statistics about the disorder, are you wondering if you could have OCD? If you believe that you might have obsessive-compulsive disorder, consider taking the Mind Diagnostics OCD test. People of all ages can have OCD, but note that the Mind Diagnostics online OCD test is meant for those 18 and above. While it’s not a replacement for a diagnosis from a medical or mental health professional, it can give you insight into your symptoms, and it might just be the first step to getting the help that you need. Taking the Mind Diagnostics OCD test is free, fast, and confidential.

Click here to take the Mind Diagnostics OCD test.

*For all information regarding specific treatments, please consult a medical or mental health professional.