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OCD - Clinical Diagnosis often Missed

Abstract: Many people with OCD do not get the correct diagnosis.

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OCD - Clinical Diagnosis often Missed

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Written by: Martin Winkler
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 27 Jul 2008.

Is the diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) often missed? What is the prevalence of OCD in a clinical setting?


According to recent research the expected number of people with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) will be something between 1 to 3 percent of the population. But despite more information about the clincal symptoms and course of this disorder the diagnosis is often missed in a clinical setting and the patients to not get an appropriate treatment for this disorder. One American study by Fireman et al (2001) made a survey of patients in a large health maintenance organization. They examined a database of outpatient diagnosis of more than 1.7 million people (1995 to 1996). They found a prevalence of 0.084%. More women than men were detected with this disorder.

Doctors and self-help groups know that it is very hard to convince a patient with OCD to seek for professional help or speak about their problems to a therapist. So the clincial diagnosis is often missed. Sometime the diagnosis is only made by chance if the patient shows marked obsessive-compulsive behaviour (like taking a shower for many hours, use of excessive amount of toiltet paper). So it can take more than 10 years for many people until they will be able to join an appropriate therapy.

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