Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – A Primer on Neurobiology, Diagnosis and Treatment

Posted on:January 28, 2018
Last Updated: November 10, 2023
Time to read: 27–33 minutes

The hallmark of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is the presence of obsessions and compulsions. It has a bimodal incidence, with peaks occurring in late childhood/early adolescence and again in early adulthood (20-29).

While 21 to 38 % of individuals in the population endorse obsessions and/or compulsions, only a small minority meet the criteria for a clinical OCD diagnosis. [Bralten et al, 2020]

The lifetime prevalence of OCD is believed to be between 1% and 3%, and patients can experience chronic or episodic OCD symptoms throughout their lifetime. OCD is a time-consuming and distressing psychiatric disorder that has higher disability-adjusted years than Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis combined, making OCD one of the top 10 most disabling medical conditions. [WHO]

OCD is believed to diminish the quality of life of the patient, similar in extent to those individuals with schizophrenia. [Subramaniam M et al, 2013]

OCD symptoms are often accompanied by strong avoidance behaviours.

OCD is under-recognised, undertreated as well as frequently mistreated. We summarise the key diagnosis and treatment modalities in OCD based on the latest reviews. [Hirschtritt M et al, 2017], [Reddy et al, 2017], [Stein et al, 2019] [Del Casale et al, 2019]