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A risk factor is something that increases your chance of an illness.

It is possible to develop OCD with or without the risk factors listed below. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chance of OCD. Talk to your doctor about your risks.

Risk factors may include:


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 increases the risk of having OCD.

Presence of Other Mental or Neurologic Conditions

OCD often occurs in people who have other mental health 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 or is related to strep throat.


Stress can make OCD symptoms appear. It is often linked to major life changes, such as the 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: Accessed January 13, 2020.

Moretti G, Pasquini M, et al. What every psychiatrist should know about PANDAS: a review. Clin Pract Epidemol Ment Health. 2008;4:13.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Accessed January 13, 2020.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: Accessed January 13, 2020.

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