Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Its Epidemiology


Obsessive-compulsive disorder, OCD, is a neuropsychological ailment that is typified by unreasonable thoughts and fears which are known as obsessions. Such obsessions cause an individual to assume repetitive behaviors known as compulsions. This study is about the different aspects of OCD in terms of diagnosis, treatment, occurrence in different forms among other characteristics. This paper therefore seeks to define and discuss an extensive scope of the Obsessive-compulsive disorder, OCD.


The Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a neuropsychological ailment and it is one of the least known diseases. It is important to learn and create awareness about this disease since its prevalence is on the increase. Below are some of the current statistics that show the prevalence of the disease.

Epidemiology of OCD

Epidemiology study is the study of the prevalence of a certain observable fact and its effects on the different social settings. The prevalence of OCD is equal across all age groups according to recent research. However, it is estimated that 80% of adults experiencing OCD developed it at an early age. This therefore suggests that its prevalence among teenagers is more extensive compared to its frequency in adults. However, the general worldwide prevalence is at 2% (Huber, Balz, Abert & Pronk, 2011). The disease is observed in both males and females in equal proportions and its prevalence in children especially during commencement of the puberty stage is 1% to 3% just as it is with adults (Huber et al. 2011). In men, the most frequent sign is checking while women will display the compulsive washing symptom. OCD is a chronic ailment but its severity differs depending on the level of emotional distress.

Diagnosis Criteria

Diagnosis criteria are the available and known methods of treatment or procedures recommended for administering a treatment process. The major diagnosis processes of OCD include examination of a patient’s level of depression since most of the victims of OCD have Comorbid Depressive Symptoms (Tolin & Villavicencio, 2011). In addition to the above mentioned diagnosis criterion, one can examine such effects as phobic disorders, anorexia nervosa, obsessive tendencies among other common signs (Tolin & Villavicencio, 2011). Patients who experience unwanted and uncontrollable thoughts are most likely suffering from OCD. Diagnosis for OCD requires one to find out the patient’s efforts in trying to get rid of such thoughts. It is imperative to find out whether the patient cleans his or her hands frequently. Other signs include finding out whether he or she keeps checking things over and over, he or she is obsessed with putting everything in order, or the patient takes extra ordinarily long to complete tasks.

Symptoms and signs

Symptoms and signs are logical observable characteristics that are used to determine the presence or occurrences of a disease in a patient. OCD occurs mainly in both obsessive and compulsive forms although it can also occur in one form. In many occasions, a patient may constantly try to get rid of such obsessions with no success (Tolin & Villavicencio, 2011). Such obsessions are known to distract the patient especially when he or she is trying to perform other tasks. To relieve the anxiety caused by such distractions, the patient may develop counteractive measures to ease or alleviate the impacts of these obsessions. These counteractive measures are known as compulsive or ritualistic activities. Some of the notable symptoms of obsession in OCD included, fear of contamination, desire to maintain order, and horrific sexual or religious thoughts (Tolin & Villavicencio, 2011).

Compulsions on the other hand include activities that OCD victims feel compelled to perform to alleviate their aggression. Such behaviors are repetitive and they are intended to relieve the patient from the impacts of obsession. The most common characteristic of compulsive actions is their ability to temporary relief the patient’s anxiety. Patients suffering from OCD seem to create rules or routine rituals that they follow to help them alleviate the impacts of anxiety. Some of the notable compulsion symptoms include, counting, having strict and habitual schedules, checking, and seeking assurance among others.


Treatments are methods or procedures that can be used to alleviate or stop the occurrence of a certain medical condition in a patient. In treating OCD, there are different approaches that can be used. These approaches include psychological and pharmacological therapies. In psychological therapies, patients are supposed to give an account of their anxiety situations in the order of their severity. The methodology used in this therapy is the Exposure Response Prevention, ERP (Haber & Heilbronner, 2013). In this approach, the patient is taken through a process of avoiding anxious behaviors by dealing with the least phobias. The psychological responses to OCD are the most effective modes of treatment although drugs can also be used to perform similar functions. In the pharmacological therapies, drugs such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors are known worldwide as the most effective drugs for treating OCD (Lebowitz, Vitulano, Mataix‐Cols & Leckman, 2011).

Risk factors

Risk factors are the genetic or environmental factors that accelerate the occurrence of a disease. Genetically, it has not been proven that OCD is a hereditary ailment. However, a significant percentage of its victims have had one of their close relatives suffer from the ailment before (Grisham, Fullana, Mataix-Cols, Moffitt, Caspi & Poulton, 2011). It has been noted that people who have had a family member suffering from this ailment are at a greater risk of developing it. The other lot that is prone to developing OCD includes people who have experienced traumatic events or people who react so strongly to stressful conditions (Bergin, Verhulst, Aggen, Neale, Kendler, Bienvenu & Hettema, 2014).


This paper has clearly and intensively discussed and outlined the effects and impacts of OCD. The paper has discussed and outlined the epidemiology of the disease as well as its diagnosis criteria. The physical and emotional symptoms and signs of the disease have also been clearly discussed in addition to the variant methods of treatment. The paper ends with a discussion of the risk factors of developing OCD in terms of genetic makeup and environmental responses.


Bergin, J., Verhulst, B., Aggen, S. H., Neale, M. C., Kendler, K. S., Bienvenu, O. J., & Hettema, J. M. (2014). Obsessive compulsive symptom dimensions and neuroticism: An examination of shared genetic and environmental risk. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics.1(1), 123-134.

Huber, S. A., Balz, A., Abert, M., & Pronk, W. (2011). Characterizations of aquatic humic and non-humic matter with size-exclusion chromatography–organic carbon detection–organic nitrogen detection (LC-OCD-OND). Water Research, 45(2), 879-885.

Grisham, J. R., Fullana, M. A., Mataix-Cols, D., Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., & Poulton, R. (2011). Risk factors prospectively associated with adult obsessive–compulsive symptom dimensions and obsessive–compulsive disorder. Psychological medicine, 41(12), 2495-2506.

Haber, S. N., & Heilbronner, S. R. (2013). Translational research in OCD: circuitry and mechanisms. Neuropsychopharmacology, 38(1), 252.

Lebowitz, E. R., Vitulano, L. A., Mataix‐Cols, D., & Leckman, J. F. (2011). Editorial perspective: when OCD takes over… the family! Coercive and disruptive behaviors in paedia, 2(3), 234.

Tolin, D. F., & Villavicencio, A. (2011). Inattention, but not OCD, predicts the core features of hoarding disorder. Behaviour research and therapy, 49(2), 120-125.

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