Who is affected by obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common anxiety disorder that affects 2% to 3% of the general population (millions of people worldwide).1

  • OCD usually begins during late adolescence or early adulthood.
  • One-third of those with OCD report that their first symptoms began before the age of 15.2
  • OCD occurs equally in males and females.
  • OCD usually starts earlier in males than in females. (It is possible for preschool children to develop OCD, although this is rare.)3
    • Males most often develop OCD between the ages of 6 and 15.
    • Females usually develop OCD between the ages of 20 and 29.
    • OCD is found in people from all ethnic backgrounds.
    • OCD occurs more often in people who have parents or siblings (first-degree family members) with OCD.3, 1


  1. Sadock BJ, Sadock VA (2007). Obsessive-compulsive disorder. In Kaplan and Sadock's Synopsis of Psychiatry, Behavioral Sciences/Clinical Psychiatry, 10th ed., pp. 604–612. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
  2. King RA, et al. (1998). Practice parameters for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 37(10, Suppl): 27S–45S.
  3. American Psychiatric Association (2000). Obsessive-compulsive disorder. In Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed., text rev., pp. 456–463. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Last Updated: June 25, 2008

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