How Often Does OCD Occur Compared to Other Disorders?

How often does OCD occur? Discover the prevalence of OCD and effective treatment options in this comprehensive article.

What Is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a mental health condition that causes intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Many may not realize how many youth and adults live with OCD and how symptoms impact their quality of life. So what exactly is OCD, and how often does OCD occur?

What Are Obsessions And Compulsions?

OCD is a widely diagnosed mental health condition. People who have obsessive-compulsive disorder experience symptoms called obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are frequent, persistent ideas and thoughts that dramatically affect the quality of life. There are many types of obsessions, and each person experiences them differently.

In most cases, someone with OCD obsessions uses actions and behaviors called compulsions to reduce the intensity of unpleasant thoughts or ideas. As with obsessions, types of compulsions vary widely and from person to person.

Importance Of Having An Understanding Of OCD

Understanding how often does OCD occur means learning more about the illness itself.

When family and friends of someone living with OCD learn more about how often does OCD occur and how OCD compares to other mental health conditions, it can help facilitate early and holistic treatment in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill.

What Are The Different Types Of OCD?

Movies and television shows often represent one element of OCD, portraying someone with the disorder as fixated on order and organization. But there is more to this complex illness. Film and screen do not cover the emotional, physical, and spiritual harms often associated with OCD.

Learning about obsessive-compulsive disorder, such as how often does OCD occur and where in your local Raleigh-Durham area you can go for treatment, is essential.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) lists several subtypes of OCD. The five most commonly referenced in mental health treatment settings in North Carolina are described below.


Obsessions about germs and sickness characterize contamination OCD. Someone with this type of OCD experiences obsessions about germs, bacteria, spoiled foods, and other contaminants (perceived or actual) that could cause illness. They worry about their health and spreading sickness to others.

With this type of OCD, rituals (compulsions) develop around cleaning and washing. They may overuse cleaning chemicals, avoid touching “dirty” objects like bathroom door handles, or excessively wash their body and hands.

How Often Does OCD Occur With Contamination?

How often does OCD occur can vary based on the type of OCD. Research shows this type of OCD is one of the most common affecting up to 46% of people diagnosed with OCD.1

Symmetry And Ordering (Organization)

People with an organization subtype of OCD fixate on symmetry and order. Remember, this is not the same as wanting order and neatness in one’s home. This type of OCD can lead to significant disruptions in the day, as they dedicate hours to arranging objects and rearranging the same objects until they feel satisfied.

Compulsions accompanying organization OCD may involve repeated counting, color coding, constant rearranging of items, or moving a particular item a certain number of times (e.g., placing the same glass in the cabinet five times because the number five holds a particular significance).

How Often Does OCD Occur With Symmetry And Ordering?

Research suggests symmetry OCD is also quite common in individuals diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Studies show between 36% and 50% of adults with OCD experience symmetry obsessions.2

Intrusive Thoughts

Also called taboo or unacceptable thoughts, this type of OCD involves thoughts or ideas that stray far from one’s typical values. They may involve violence, sexual thoughts, or other ideas considered taboo.

It is crucial to remember that everyone has these thoughts occasionally, even those without OCD. One study evaluated 777 students across thirteen countries and found that 93.6% of participants reported experiencing at least one intrusive thought within three months.3

Categories Of Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive thoughts are often persistent and uncontrollable. Most who experience them note they fall into categories or themes. Examples include:

  • Relationship problems
  • Sexual thoughts
  • Harm (to self or others)
  • Worries about immoral or sinful behaviors

Compulsions in this type of OCD may include prayer, seeking reassurance from others, and active thought suppression. People who experience intrusive thoughts do not generally act on them but are still viewed as very disturbing, as they do not align with the person’s typical mindset.

How Often Does OCD Occur With Intrusive Thoughts?

Intrusive thoughts are one of the most common symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, as they stem from obsessions. Thus, it is estimated that the majority of individuals with OCD experience intrusive thoughts.


Someone with this type of OCD doubts their memories and judgment. As a result, they will repeatedly check and recheck items such as doors, stoves, and irons to ensure they are safe. It is common to feel the need to check multiple times to ensure everything is turned off or closed.

How Often Does OCD Occur With Checking?

When considering how often does OCD occur, another subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder is checking. Some studies suggest it is the most common ritual in 80% of OCD cases.4


Ruminations are similar to intrusive thoughts but do not involve unpleasant or invasive ideas. Individuals with rumination OCD tend to fixate on questions with no solution, such as questions of philosophy.

How Often Does OCD Occur With Rumination?

Statistics on this subtype of OCD are not available, and therefore, it is hard to determine how often does OCD occur with this subtype.

How Is Each OCD Journey Different?

How often does OCD occur, and does the frequency of symptoms for each subtype vary from person to person? While most people with OCD experience a combination of obsessions and compulsions, it is possible to have only obsessions or only compulsions.

It is also important to remember that while two people may have the same type of OCD, the symptoms, severity, and frequency of obsessions may vary significantly. For example, the compulsive behaviors they use to relieve the unpleasantness of obsessions can differ.

What Is The Scope Of OCD?

OCD, once considered a rare mental health condition, is now believed to affect approximately 1.2% of the U.S. population. Studies estimate that women are three times more likely to experience OCD symptoms than men. Similar research indicates 25% of OCD diagnoses occur before age fourteen.5

Co-Occurring Disorders With OCD

When researching how often does OCD occur, you may learn OCD often co-occurs with other conditions.

One of the most common co-occurring disorders in OCD is anxiety, with roughly three-quarters of adults with OCD also having an anxiety disorder, such as generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder. Over 50% with OCD are also diagnosed with depression or bipolar disorder, and around 30% have a tic disorder, such as Tourette syndrome.6

Treatment For OCD In Raleigh, NC

Like differences in symptoms and how often does OCD occur, the best treatment methods vary from person to person. At Advaita Integrated Medicine (Advaita Integrated Medicine), we understand that OCD treatment is unique to each individual and their needs.

Our qualified and experienced team of medical professionals will conduct a psychiatric evaluation and develop a personalized treatment plan. We offer a variety of treatment options for OCD, with the most common and effective being psychotherapy and medication.

OCD Treatment Opportunities

One specific type of psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is proven highly effective for treating various mental health concerns, including mental health disorders like OCD. We also offer integrative wellness coaching that focuses on physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.

Contact Advaita Integrated Medicine Today

If you live in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area and are searching for mental health treatment – or if you’re available for telehealth treatment – contact Advaita Integrated Medicine today. Let us help you learn more about OCD and take the first steps toward your recovery.

Questions About Treatment?

Reach out to Advaita Integrated Medicine today and let us guide you toward a full and rewarding life uninhibited by mental health or substance use disorder challenges. We are here to support you every step of the way.

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