How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms?

J Anxiety Disord. 2021 Jun;81:102410. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2021.102410. Epub 2021 Apr 30.


The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has caused substantial public health burden and widespread anxiety. The adverse mental health effects caused by COVID-19 may be particularly acute for individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). For the present study, we developed an online survey to investigate how COVID-19 has affected the OCD community. The survey included both quantitative and qualitative questions to assess multiple facets of how the pandemic has affected individuals with OCD symptoms. Responses were collected from adults with self-identified OCD recruited from OCD-specific forums and websites (n = 252). The majority (76.2 %) of respondents reported that their OCD symptoms had worsened since the outbreak, though there was substantial variability in individual responses. Negative effects of COVID-19 were more strongly linked to contamination and responsibility for harm symptoms than for other symptom dimensions. The self-identified OCD group also reported heightened concerns about COVID-19 compared to a community control sample recruited through Amazon's Mechanical Turk (MTurk). Lastly, many participants reported that the pandemic had interfered with their OCD treatment, yet they remained mostly satisfied with how their treatment providers had handled the crisis. These results highlight the importance of considering how COVID-19 has affected the OCD community, with possible implications for treatment providers.

Keywords: Anxiety; COVID-19; OCD; Obsessive-compulsive disorder; Pandemic; Treatment barriers.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder* / epidemiology
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2