Objective: To investigate the frequency and phenomenology of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and subclinical OCD in young adolescents.
Method: A two-stage epidemiological study originally designed to investigate adolescent depression was conducted between 1986 and 1988 in the southeastern United States. In the first stage, a self-report depressive symptom questionnaire was administered to a community sample of 3,283 adolescents. In the diagnostic stage, the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children and the Children's Global Assessment Scale were administered to 488 mother-child pairs.
Results: The prevalences of OCD and subclinical OCD were found to be 3% and 19%, respectively. Prevalences were similar in males and females. Females reported more symptoms of compulsions although males reported more obsessions. About 55% of adolescents with OCD reported both obsessions and compulsions. The most common compulsions were arranging (56%), counting (41%), collecting (38%), and washing (17%). Major depressive disorder (45%), separation anxiety (34%), dysthymia (29%), suicidal ideation (15%), and phobia (8%) were the diagnoses most frequently comorbid with OCD.
Conclusions: Findings suggest that OCD is not infrequent among adolescents and that the characteristic comorbidity and symptomatology of OCD may facilitate earlier identification and treatment by clinicians.