Obsessive compulsive disorder - OCD treatment and therapy from NOCD

85 Must-read OCD statistics in 2024

Apr 30, 202416 minute read

Key Takeaways:

  • Receiving an OCD diagnosis and effective treatment can take 14 to 17 years on average for adults. (NOCD)
  • Around 2 in 3 people with OCD saw clinically significant outcomes from exposure and response (ERP) therapy via live teletherapy. (NOCD + JMIR)
  • 90% of OCD patients also suffer from a comorbid disorder. A comorbid disorder is one that occurs alongside another (ex: depression and anxiety are often comorbid. Untreated OCD is often a contributing factor to the development of additional conditions). (ScienceDirect)
  • OCD is often misdiagnosed. In one study, family physicians misdiagnosed 50.5% of OCD cases. (NCBI)

As the fourth most common mental disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) impacts 2-3% of people at some point in their lifetime (amounting to millions in the U.S. alone), and can be far more common in specific populations, such as new parents. Compounding this issue is the alarming rate of misdiagnosis—people with OCD are frequently misunderstood, stigmatized, and overlooked. This pervasive lack of awareness not only perpetuates misconceptions but also hinders access to appropriate support and treatment. 

Misunderstood yet treatable, understanding OCD’s facts can help dispel the stigma people often attach to it. Here are 87 revealing statistics about OCD to enlighten you, whether you’re affected or supporting someone.


Our data methodology for OCD subtype analysis involved gathering self-reported selections from nearly 300,000 NOCD community members. Participants chose from a list of subtypes upon joining, with selections de-identified for anonymity. These subtypes are not formal clinical or diagnostic categories but serve to foster a sense of connection and understanding within the OCD community. As one of our clinical leaders Dr. Nicholas Farrell highlights, recognizing these subtypes can help individuals realize they are not alone in their struggles.

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Prevalence of OCD: How common is it?

OCD is a highly common mental disorder that impacts countless people across the globe. In fact, roughly 1 in 40 people will develop the disorder over the course of their lives. The statistics below examine some of the broad prevalence rates of OCD to paint a clearer picture of just how common it is. 

1. OCD is the fourth most common mental disorder. (ScienceDirect)

2. In 2023, 58.5% of NOCD members with OCD were young adults. (NOCD)

3. Around 3% of the global population has OCD. (NCBI)

4. Over the course of one’s lifetime, 2.3%—or about 1 in 40—of U.S. adults have OCD. (NIMH)

5. In 2017, 5.2% of college athletes met the full criteria for an OCD diagnosis. (American Journal of Psychiatry)

6. You’re more likely to have OCD when pregnant or postpartum—approximately 7% of new mothers experience OCD in the postpartum period. (NCBI)

7. OCD tends to run in families, and around 45-65% of OCD diagnoses could be due to genetic factors. (NCBI)

OCD by gender

Statistically, more women are diagnosed with OCD than men. The following statistics shed light on the gender differences in the manifestation and experience of the disorder. 

8. In 2023, 14.6% of the members in our OCD community who reported having OCD were LGBTQ+. (NOCD)

9. Nearly three times as many women have OCD as males (past year prevalence). (NIMH)

10. OCD is more common among boys than among girls during childhood. (NCBI)

11. After childhood—in adolescence and adulthood—OCD is more common among women than men. (NCBI)

12. Women often see OCD symptoms occur during or after puberty or pregnancy. (NCBI)

13. Men are more likely than women to present with OCD symptoms related to blasphemous (or sacrilegious) thoughts. (NCBI)

14. Women are more likely than men to to present with OCD symptoms related to contamination and/or aggressive obsessions. (NCBI

15. Compared to men with OCD, women with OCD tend to report significantly higher depression and anxiety. (NCBI

16. Far more women (51%) with OCD were married compared to men (33.5%). (ScienceDirect)

17. Of women with OCD, 47.5% lived with a partner, compared to 37.6% of men. (ScienceDirect)

18. Women with OCD were more likely than men to have lifetime comorbid conditions (72.6% vs 57%). (ScienceDirect)

19. Compared to men, women with OCD were twice as likely to have more than one comorbid condition. (ScienceDirect)

OCD by age

20. In 2023, 8.6% of the members in our OCD community who reported having OCD were older adults. (NOCD)

21. In 2023, 30.1% of the members in our OCD community who reported having OCD were students. (NOCD)

22. It can take 14 to 17 years for an adult to be diagnosed with OCD. (NOCD)

23. On average, people are roughly 19 years old when reporting their first symptoms of OCD. (NCBI)

24. Three percent of OCD patients were preschool children aged between 2 and 3 years old. (NCBI)

25. Of the 3% of preschool children with OCD, 69% were male. (NCBI)

26. The average length of time between when a person begins experiencing OCD symptoms and when they receive a diagnosis is roughly 13 years. (NCBI)

27. Patients with a short length of time between symptom onset and receiving a diagnosis were significantly younger than patients with a long duration. (NCBI)

28. However, the patients with a shorter length of time between symptom onset and diagnosis were older when they first reported their OCD symptoms. (NCBI)

29. Women are older at the age of their first OCD treatment compared to men. (ScienceDirect).

OCD by country

While 3% of the global population suffers from OCD, here are some country-specific OCD statistics that show how the condition varies geographically. 

30. Roughly 3% of people in Australia are estimated to experience OCD at some point in their lives. (Swinburne University of Technology)

31. Around 1% of people in Canada will have at least one occurrence of OCD in their lives. (Canadian Psychological Association

32. In Singapore, the lifetime prevalence of OCD is 3.0%, and the 12-month prevalence of OCD is 1.1 (NCBI)

33. In Singapore, 51.6% of patients with lifetime OCD also had a comorbid disorder. (NCBI)

34. In Sweden, women have higher rates of OCD compared to males. (NCBI)

35. In Sweden, the most common comorbid conditions of OCD are anxiety disorders and major depression. 13.6% of OCD patients also had a comorbid condition related to anxiety disorders, and 12% had comorbid major depression disorder. (NCBI)

36. In 2023, 5.4% of the members in our OCD community who reported having OCD identified as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC). (NOCD)

OCD symptoms and diagnosis

When most people think of OCD, they’re likely to imagine someone washing their hands over and over again, counting the ceiling tiles, or flipping a light switch on and off a specific number of times. 

While visible, ritualistic compulsions like these are common for many people with OCD, they don’t tell the whole story. They’re often accompanied by entirely invisible symptoms like disturbing intrusive thoughts, debilitating fear, and mental rituals that remain unnoticed by others. In fact, some of the most prevalent and debilitating OCD experiences often go unrecognized, even by professionals who lack proper training in OCD. 

In reality, OCD’s manifestations are as diverse as the individuals it affects, and lesser-known obsessions about causing harm may even be the most prevalent (NCBI). The statistics below shed light on OCD symptoms and characteristics, along with different OCD subtypes—from relationship OCD and real event OCD to magical thinking OCD and existential OCD—that you might not be aware of.

There is certainly a benefit to recognizing OCD subtypes. They allow those with OCD to more easily identify their experiences, realizing they have a real condition, and that they’re not alone in their struggle.

Dr. Nicholas Farrell, Clinical Director, NOCD

37. Contamination OCD is one of the most prevalent subtypes of OCD. (NCBI)

38. In 2023, 51.3% of members in our OCD community with OCD had relationship OCD, a subtype of OCD that involves intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors related to their romantic partner. (NOCD)

39. In 2023, 48% of NOCD members with OCD had perfectionism OCD, a subtype of OCD that involves intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors related to imperfections, “wrong” sensations, or related things like order & symmetry. (NOCD)

40. 37.2% of NOCD members with OCD had real events OCD in 2023, a subtype of OCD that involves intrusive thoughts and guilty feelings related to past events that occurred. (NOCD)

41. 31.9% of NOCD members with OCD had false memory OCD in 2023, a subtype of OCD characterized by recurring doubting thoughts about past events and compulsive behavior related to a memory that is untrue, distorted, or exaggerated. (NOCD)

42. In 2023, 31.8% of NOCD members with OCD had harm OCD, a subtype of OCD characterized by intrusive thoughts or urges relating to harming oneself or others. (NOCD)

43. In 2023, 29.6% of NOCD members with OCD had existential OCD, a subtype of OCD characterized by intrusive thoughts about philosophical, impossible-to-answer questions relating to one’s purpose or life after death. (NOCD)

44. In 2023, 26.5% of NOCD members with OCD had contamination OCD, a subtype of OCD characterized by obsessing over catching an illness or spreading germs. (NOCD)

45. In 2023, 26% of NOCD members with OCD had magical thinking OCD, a subtype of OCD characterized by ongoing intrusive thoughts and compulsions around superstition to prevent negative experiences. (NOCD)

46. In 2023, 25.8% of NOCD members with OCD had somatic OCD, a less common subtype of OCD that involves hyper awareness and sensitivity to normal bodily functions like blinking, swallowing, or breathing. (NOCD)

47. In 2023, 20.5% of NOCD members with OCD had scrupulosity (religious) OCD, a subtype of OCD characterized by excessive guilt about violating one’s religious or moral code. (NOCD)

48. In 2023, 16% of NOCD members with OCD had suicidal OCD, a subtype of OCD closely related to harm OCD that’s characterized by unwanted thoughts or impulses about ending your life. (NOCD)

49. Not everyone’s OCD impacts them in the same way. 50% of adults experience serious impairment. (NIMH)

50. Thirty-five percent of adults with OCD experienced moderate impairment. (NIMH)

51. Fifteen percent of adults with OCD experienced mild impairment. (NIMH)

52. OCD is at a high risk for misdiagnosis, and has been misdiagnosed 50.5% of the time. (NCBI)

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Comorbid conditions with OCD

OCD is challenging enough, but for many, it rarely exists in isolation. OCD often coexists with other mental health disorders, or “comorbidities,” that can significantly impact one’s well-being. 

For this reason, it’s crucial that OCD screenings and diagnoses consider comorbidities. These statistics explore comorbid conditions with OCD. 

53. 90% of lifetime OCD patients were also diagnosed with another lifetime disorder. (ScienceDirect)

54. 30% of people with OCD had a comorbid tic disorder. (BMC Psychiatry)

55. According to one study, comorbid conditions of depression, anxiety, and psychotic disorders tended to have a later age of onset than OCD. (NCBI)

56. Men with OCD are more likely to also suffer from social phobia, tic disorders, alcohol use disorders, compulsive Internet use, and sexual disorders. (ScienceDirect)

57. Women with OCD are more likely to also suffer from specific phobias, anorexia or bulimia nervosa, trichotillomania, skin picking, and compulsive buying. (ScienceDirect)

58. Duration of untreated illness (DUI) was significantly longer for OCD patients who also had other comorbid conditions or disorders, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. (NCBI)

59. Of patients with OCD, 47.9% also had a lifetime prevalence of social phobia. (NCBI)

60. Of patients with OCD, 40.3% also had a lifetime prevalence of paranoid conditions, with 29.1% having paranoid ideation. (NCBI)

61. Of patients with OCD, 15.3% also had a lifetime prevalence of psychotic disorders. (NCBI)

62. Of patients with OCD, 13.2% also had a lifetime prevalence of alcohol abuse. (NCBI)

63. Of OCD patients who also suffered from alcohol abuse, 39% were men and 3% were women. (NCBI)

64. For patients with OCD, comorbid conditions relating to specific phobias often started before OCD. (NCBI)

65. For patients with OCD, comorbid conditions of social phobia, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, alcohol and substance abuse, psychotic disorders, and paranoid conditions most often started after OCD. (NCBI)

OCD and anxiety

Anxiety disorders are among the most common comorbidity experienced by OCD patients, occurring in 75.8% of cases, according to ScienceDirect. Major depression is another common comorbidity seen in those with OCD, as the following statistics show.

66. 71.5% of patients with OCD also had a lifetime prevalence of generalized anxiety disorder. (NCBI)

67. Of patients with OCD, 47.9% also had a lifetime prevalence of panic anxiety disorder. (NCBI)

68. 52.1% of OCD patients also had a lifetime prevalence of agoraphobia, a type of anxiety disorder. (NCBI)

OCD and depression

Major depressive disorder is another comorbidity most commonly seen in tandem with OCD. While it’s clear that those with OCD are at a higher risk of developing depression (or another mental health disorder) compared to the general population, it’s less clear whether OCD directly causes depression. 

69. Roughly 25-50% of OCD patients also meet the criteria for a major depressive episode. (IOCDF)

70. Of patients with OCD and major depression, 12% reported a lifetime history of suicide attempts. (NCBI)

71. Of patients with OCD, 84.7% also had a lifetime prevalence of depressive disorders, with 43.8% having major depression. (NCBI)

72. Among children with OCD, major depressive disorder is among the most common comorbid disorders. (NCBI)

OCD and eating disorders

While distinct in their manifestations, OCD and eating disorders share similarities in terms of underlying psychological mechanisms and behavioral patterns. Those who struggle with both conditions may find themselves caught in a web of obsessive thoughts surrounding body image, food, and rituals aimed at controlling or alleviating anxiety.

73. Among OCD patients, comorbidity rates for eating disorders (EDs) are as high as 41%. (NCBI)

74. Across the globe, 18% of patients with an ED also had a lifetime prevalence of OCD. (NCBI)

75. Globally, 15% of patients with an ED also had current comorbid OCD (as opposed to a lifetime prevalence). (NCBI)

76. For patients with an ED and a lifetime prevalence of OCD, 19% had anorexia, and 13% had bulimia. (NCBI)

77. Intolerance of uncertainty (IU) is a potential shared mechanism between OCD and EDs, and researchers found IU to be associated with both ED and OCD symptoms. (NCBI)

OCD treatment and recovery statistics

Research shows a delay between when one receives their diagnosis and when they begin treatment, highlighting the need to shorten the time between symptom onset and diagnosis to reduce unneeded suffering from untreated OCD. 

That said, understanding available OCD treatments is crucial for those seeking relief. Among them, Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy shines, offering hope by systematically addressing obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. 

Through healthier coping mechanisms, ERP therapy empowers individuals to reduce symptoms and regain control, as the following statistics reveal. 

78. Around 2 in 3 people benefit from ERP therapy via live teletherapy. (NOCD + JMIR )

79. OCD symptoms were reduced by 43.4% on average for OCD patients who underwent ERP via live teletherapy twice per week, followed by six weeks of weekly check-ins. (NOCD + JMIR )

80. ERP therapy lowered depression by 44.2% on average for OCD patients. (NOCD + JMIR )

81. ERP therapy lowered anxiety by 47.8% on average for OCD patients. (NOCD + JMIR )

82. Patients who underwent ERP therapy saw a 37.3% reduction in stress symptoms. (NOCD + JMIR )

83. ERP therapy led to a 22.7% improvement in quality of life for OCD patients. (NOCD + JMIR )

84. In a virtual therapy setting, clinically significant treatment outcomes were achieved in less than half the time that traditional, in-person ERP therapy typically requires. (NOCD + JMIR )

85. It can take up to 17 years for those diagnosed with OCD to receive adequate therapy. (NCBI + JMIR )

How to get treatment for OCD

Exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy is the gold standard form of treatment for OCD. Working with an OCD specialist, you learn to confront obsessions while resisting compulsions. Despite the discomfort, ERP breaks the cycle by encouraging you not to perform compulsions. Over time, this essentially rewires your brain, teaching it that compulsions aren’t necessary for distress to fade. All emotions, including anxiety, are temporary and will naturally diminish.

For some people with OCD, ERP therapy is most effective when accompanied by prescribed medication. This may be due to the severity of symptoms, a person’s unique psychology and neurobiology, or other conditions that occur alongside OCD, such as major depressive disorder. In such cases, a treatment plan combining therapy with medication can provide the best chance at long-term recovery. 

It’s crucial to work with a qualified therapist who specializes in ERP. At NOCD, all therapists undergo rigorous training, receive ongoing oversight from some of the world’s leading experts in OCD treatment, and regularly coordinate care for medication management with experienced prescribers when needed. Learn more about NOCD’s accessible, evidence-based approach to treatment to see if it’s right for you.

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