What to Know About OCD and Getting Older

While some OCD sufferers discover that as they get older, their symptoms become better, others may find that becoming older brings with it a new set of triggers that make their symptoms worse.

The persistent mental illness known as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is typified by intrusive, recurring obsessions and compulsive behaviours.

This article will discuss how OCD symptoms and severity vary with age and how treatment might help you manage your symptoms more effectively over time.

Does OCD get better or worse with age?

It might be challenging to forecast if an individual with OCD will see improvement or worsening with age. This is because OCD severity can be influenced by a variety of things.

Because they may employ the coping mechanisms they've developed over time to control their symptoms, some people may find that their OCD becomes better as they age. Evidence from studies indicates that treatment can lessen OCD symptoms and help sufferers lead happier, more satisfying lives.

But not everyone can afford or get therapy, and in the absence of it, OCD may eventually get worse. Adulthood can become a triggering period for individuals with untreated OCD, compounded by stressful events such as a divorce or a catastrophic illness.

How common is OCD?

Approximately 2.5 million adult Americans, or 1.2% of the adult population in the nation, suffer from OCD symptoms.

According to statistics, 25% of individuals with OCD start having symptoms before the age of 14, with a 19-year-old average.

OCD after puberty

Some studies indicate that OCD affects boys more frequently in childhood but becomes more common in girls in adolescence and maturity. Regardless of gender, puberty can affect OCD symptoms for a variety of reasons.

Adolescence is a time when several mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and other behavioural disorders, can manifest. Children with these disorders who are going through puberty may find that managing their symptoms gets harder.

Changes also accompany adolescence. As a child grows into an adult, many life changes might cause stress, such as peer pressure or new obligations. Stress or trauma experienced during this time in life may cause adolescent OCD or exacerbate existing symptoms.

OCD after menopause

According to a 2010 study, postmenopausal females had an OCD rate of 7.1%, which is much higher than the overall population's OCD prevalence. The impact that hormones can have on mental health could be one of the causes of this.

Oestrogen and progesterone levels vary during the menopause and perimenopause, sometimes markedly. These hormones can cause a range of physical and emotional symptoms, including the exacerbation of disorders like OCD, as their levels rise and fall.

Other factors in OCD’s progression

People of all ages and genders may experience exacerbations of OCD symptoms as they age due to additional mental health issues.

Researchers discovered that 63.2% of participants with OCD in the previously described study also had other mental health issues. OCD symptoms may be more difficult to manage if you have anxiety problems, sleep disorders, or other mental or physical health issues.

Does OCD get better with medication or treatment?

Treatment is one of the things that has the biggest impact on how someone's OCD changes as they age, however, there are other aspects as well. According to studies, 32% to even 70% of adults with OCD may be able to recover with treatment.

Medication is one kind of treatment that can help control OCD symptoms over the long run. Tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are the two most often prescribed medications for OCD.

Another strategy for treating OCD symptoms that may be more successful than medicine alone is exposure and response prevention (ERP). Through a form of exposure therapy called ERP, you can learn to live with your obsessions and the anxiety they generate without having to engage in compulsive behaviours.

The following resources can be helpful if you're interested in learning more about OCD treatment options but are unsure where to begin:
  • Providers of the International OCD Foundation
  • Support Groups for the International OCD Foundation
  • Anonymous Meetings: An Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour
  • Residential Mental Health Facilities under the ARTA
  • FindTreatment.gov by SAMHSA


OCD is a chronic illness with symptoms that can be quite severe and even incapacitating. Nonetheless, studies have demonstrated that OCD symptoms can improve with therapy, even in adulthood.

If OCD symptoms are making it difficult for you to function, think about talking to a reputable healthcare provider about your worries. To assist you in managing your symptoms over the long term, you can jointly investigate your alternatives and develop a treatment plan.


Can you live a long life with OCD?

Many people successfully manage their OCD and live normal, successful lives.

Does OCD get worse as you age?

There's currently no evidence that OCD gets worse with age for everyone.

What are 3 interesting facts about OCD?

OCD symptoms tend to wax and wane over time

Can a person with OCD get married?

One of the biggest life upheavals is choosing to be married, and OCD frequently shows up when a person needs assurance about their marriage.

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