How Common is OCD?

Once considered a rare condition, experts now believe that Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) was often misdiagnosed in the past, partly through lack of knowledge amongst the health profession, but also partly because of a sufferer’s reluctance to talk about their symptoms through fear of embarrassment and shame. Therefore reported numbers did not reflect the true number of cases. More recent research and understanding of the illness offers a much clearer picture of the problem.

Around the world there are literally millions of people affected by OCD and it is considered to be the fourth most common mental illness in many western countries that will affect men, women and children regardless of their race, religion, nationality or socio-economic group.

Here in the United Kingdom current estimates suggest that 1.2% of the population will have OCD, which equates to 12 out of every 1000 people, and based on the current estimates for the UK population, these statistics mean that potentially, approximately 741,504 people are living with OCD at any one time.

However it is worth noting that a disproportionately high number, 50% of all these cases will fall into the severe category, with less than only a quarter being classed as mild cases. Which is why some estimates suggest that maybe 2-3% of all those visiting their GP will be doing so because of OCD.

These estimates are still considered to be underestimated with many people affected by OCD still suffering in silence through embarrassment and fear of being labelled. Others are unaware that their suffering is a recognised medical condition, which is why charities like OCD-UK must continue to work hard to raise awareness and remove the stigma of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

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