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America’s Fifty-Fold Increase in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

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31 October 2019

CHILDREN’S HEALTH DEFENSE — Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), considered a neurobiological condition, is an often “long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions), and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.” Although the specific obsessions and compulsions vary widely from person to person, the common denominator is that they “create stress and interfere with daily life.”

U.S. researchers estimate that OCD affects 1%-2% of children and up to 3% of adolescents and adults. The current lifetime prevalence estimate of around 2.7% is 54 times higher than the estimated pre-1980s prevalence (for the U.S. population as a whole) of around 0.05% (1 in 2000). In a retrospective hospital-based study that looked at OCD prevalence over time, researchers who examined psychiatric discharge diagnoses from 1969 to 1990 reported that something changed in the 1980s, with a marked increase in the frequency of OCD diagnoses over the decade.

…”the immune system, both in the central nervous system (CNS) and in the periphery, is crucial in shaping and influencing normal brain functions, and any disruption of immune function could adversely impact the brain too.”

Reflecting the disorder’s growing prominence, the American Psychiatric Association’s 2013 diagnostic manual revisions eliminated OCD as a subcategory of “anxiety disorders” and gave the diagnosis its own category of “obsessive-compulsive and related disorders.” OCD experts now urge busy neurologists “to be aware of OCD…and to have a high index of suspicion for this disorder.” […]

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