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Risk Factors for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:


Risk Factors for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

A risk factor is something that raises a person's chances of getting a disease or health problem. A person can have OCD with or without the risks below. The more risks a person has, the greater the chances are.

Things that may raise the risk of OCD are:


OCD is most common in older teens or young adults. It can begin as early as preschool age and as late as age 40.


OCD is most common in older teens or young adults. It can begin as early as preschool age and as late as age 40.

Genetic Factors

Genes may play a role in OCD for some. OCD tends to run in families. Having a relative with OCD raises the risk of having OCD.

Other Mental or Neurologic Conditions

OCD often occurs in people who have other mental illnesses. This can include:

PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders associated with Streptococcal Infections) is an illness in children. It causes OCD and/or a tic disorder. This type of OCD gets worse and is related to strep throat.


Stress can make OCD symptoms appear. It is often linked to major life changes. Examples are loss of a loved one, divorce, relationship issues, problems in school, or abuse.

Pregnancy and Postpartum Period

Hormones can trigger symptoms. OCD symptoms may worsen with pregnancy. OCD after giving birth can include intense worry over the baby’s well-being.


  • About OCD. International OCD Foundation website. Available at: https://iocdf.org/about-ocd.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml.


  • Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.