SINGAPORE: Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is one of most common mental health conditions here, according to findings from a nationwide study released on Tuesday (Dec 11).
The disorder affected one in 28 people in their lifetime, making it the third-most prevalent condition after major depressive disorder and alcohol abuse.
Younger people aged 18 to 34 were more likely to have the condition than those aged 50 and above, said researchers from the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) and Nanyang Technological University, citing the findings from the second Mental Health Study.
The study also found that those who had a monthly household income of between S$2,000 and S$3,999 were less likely to have the condition than those with a household income of less than S$2,000.
IMH's Professor Chong Siow Ann said that one symptom of OCD is the fear of contamination that manifests in excessive washing. The condition could cause “tremendous impairment” to a person's life, he said.
Associate Professor Mythily Subramaniam also said that the 6,126 participants surveyed were asked if they had had recurring thoughts or concerns about order or symmetry, which is related to OCD.
“It’s a very neglected disorder,” said Assoc Prof Mythily.
When it starts, it could be mild, she said, adding that it could get worse over time, interfering with a person's life.
Prevalence of lifetime OCD and OCD in the most recent one-year period in Singapore was higher than in South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS
Overall, one in seven people in Singapore has experienced a mood, anxiety or alcohol use disorder in their lifetime, according to the study spearheaded by IMH in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH).
This is a significant increase from 2010, when the study was last done, Assoc Prof Mythily said. The recent one was initiated in 2016 and completed in one-and-a-half years.
The most common condition was major depressive disorder, experienced by 1 in 16 people.
Younger people in the 18 to 34 age group were more likely to have major depressive disorder than those aged 50 and above. Those who were divorced and separated were also more likely to experience the condition in their lifetime.
Alcohol abuse was the next most prevalent, affecting 1 in 24 people.
Other conditions that were surveyed were bipolar disorder and generalised anxiety disorder.