OCD doesn’t discriminate. It affects children and adults of all races, genders and ethnicities, from every socioeconomic level, in all parts of the U.S. and across the world.
Some people wonder how OCD could have grown from a little-known condition just a few decades ago to one of such widespread proportions today. They ask if OCD is a new disorder brought about by changes in society, or if parents are doing something differently today that has caused a spike in the prevalence of this disorder.
Is OCD a New Disorder?
OCD is not a new disorder. But years ago, much less was known about it than is known today. There were no consumer books written about OCD until the late 1980s. Until relatively recently, information wasn’t readily available on the Internet. And just decades ago, research on OCD was virtually nonexistent. As a result, few tools were available to help professionals understand OCD – or to help struggling parents make sense of their child’s unusual behavior and treat it appropriately. Even today, many physicians and other health professionals do not recognize the symptoms of OCD in children.
In the past, the stigma of having a child with a mental illness also caused many families to hide the truth for fear of gossip, discrimination and shame; many never even asked their family physician for help. And for many families, access to mental health services was very limited.
Due to these factors, experts now believe that while OCD was present in children (and adults) in the past, the number of OCD cases was very much underreported, giving the impression that OCD is a “new” disease today.