Why some people might only discover they have OCD later in life: 6 reasons

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. However, not everyone with OCD is diagnosed early in life. In some cases, individuals may not realize they have the disorder until well into adulthood. The reasons for this late discovery can be complex, involving factors such as lack of awareness, misconceptions, and effective coping mechanisms. Ruth’s story is a compelling example of someone who didn’t know she had OCD until the age of 32, highlighting the importance of recognizing and addressing the symptoms of this often misunderstood condition.

Ruth’s story

My name is Ruth, and for most of my life, I never realized that I was living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It wasn’t until I was 32 years old that I finally discovered the true nature of my thoughts and behaviors.

Growing up, I was always the one who liked to keep things organized and clean. My family and friends would tease me about my penchant for orderliness, but they never thought it was anything more than a quirky personality trait. Neither did I. I had heard about OCD, but like many people, I thought it was just about excessive cleanliness and being a neat freak. I never imagined that I might be living with this condition.

As I got older, my need for orderliness and control began to extend to other aspects of my life. I would find myself constantly checking the doors and windows to make sure they were locked, even though I knew I had already checked them multiple times. I would go through elaborate rituals before leaving my house, convinced that if I didn’t, something terrible would happen. These behaviors and intrusive thoughts began to consume my life, but I still did not recognize them as signs of OCD.

When I was 32, my life took a turn for the worse. I went through a difficult period of personal loss, and my OCD symptoms escalated to a point where I could no longer ignore them. The constant checking, worrying, and anxiety began to affect my work, relationships, and overall well-being. That’s when I finally decided to seek help.

I scheduled an appointment with a clinical psychologist, and after a thorough evaluation, I was diagnosed with OCD.

At first, I was shocked and couldn’t believe that this was happening to me. But as I began to learn more about the disorder and its various manifestations, I started to see how my thoughts and behaviors fit the criteria.

If there’s one thing I want people to know, it’s that OCD is not just about cleanliness and order. It can manifest in many different ways, and it’s important to recognize the signs and seek help if you think you might be struggling with it. The sooner you get diagnosed, the sooner you can start working towards a healthier, happier life. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support; it can make all the difference.

Ruth S.

6 reasons why some people might only discover they have OCD later in life

There are several reasons why some people might only discover they have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) later in life. Some of these reasons include:

  1. Lack of awareness or knowledge: Many people may not be familiar with the symptoms of OCD or may not recognize their behaviors as being indicative of the disorder. As awareness and understanding of OCD increases, people may be more likely to identify their own symptoms and seek a professional diagnosis.
  2. Stigma and misconceptions: There is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health disorders, including OCD. People may feel ashamed or embarrassed about their symptoms and may be hesitant to seek help. Additionally, misconceptions about OCD (e.g., that it only involves cleanliness or orderliness) may prevent people from recognizing their own symptoms.
  3. High-functioning or mild symptoms: Some individuals with OCD may have mild or well-controlled symptoms that do not significantly impact their daily functioning. In such cases, they may not feel the need to seek professional help or may not even be aware that their thoughts and behaviors are indicative of a mental health disorder.
  4. Misdiagnosis or underdiagnosis: OCD can sometimes be misdiagnosed as another mental health disorder, such as generalized anxiety disorder or depression, especially when the obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors are not as prominent. In these cases, individuals may be receiving treatment for the wrong condition, which could delay the proper diagnosis of OCD.
  5. Change in life circumstances: Sometimes, life events or changes in circumstances can trigger or exacerbate OCD symptoms. In these cases, a person who may have had mild or unnoticeable symptoms earlier in life could suddenly experience more severe symptoms later in life, leading them to seek help and receive a diagnosis.
  6. Coping mechanisms: Some individuals with OCD may have developed effective coping mechanisms to manage their symptoms without professional help. However, as life stressors change or coping strategies become less effective, they may eventually seek help and receive a diagnosis.

It is important to note that diagnosing OCD can be challenging, as symptoms can vary greatly from person to person. If you suspect that you or someone you know may have OCD, it’s essential to seek help from a mental health professional who can provide an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment options.


Some reasons people may discover they have OCD later in life include: lack of awareness or knowledge about OCD, stigma and misconceptions, high-functioning or mild symptoms, misdiagnosis or underdiagnosis, change in life circumstances, and coping mechanisms that were effective for a time. Identifying and addressing OCD symptoms is essential for proper treatment and improved quality of life.

The old way



 $$$ – Therapist costs

 $ – Save money


No published evidence

13 published studies

Time burden

Long term

3-4 minutes of your day


Takes months

91% see first results within a week


Privacy concerns

Anonymous and private

User feedback


4.8 / 5.0 (2,635 reviews)