OCD starts differently for every person. Some people get it early in life, some later in life. Some people have a trauma or big life event that seems to start symptoms, while others get symptoms out of the blue. Some have a family history of OCD while others do not. And some see symptoms start and increase gradually while others see a rush of symptoms at one time. Given that OCD can come at any time for any person, it may be confusing when thinking about when to seek OCD treatment for yourself or a loved one.
Mild OCD symptoms include unwanted thoughts and feelings that may last for minutes up to an hour a day. These thoughts and feelings are often avoidable and a person will find that they can accomplish much of their desired activities in a day, though they will be carrying more anxiety with them than they would like. Without treatment symptoms may get worse, intrusive thoughts become more frequent and strong, and compulsions become more time consuming. Severe cases of OCD leave people completely disabled, performing complicated rituals for all waking hours, with little relief found in sleep.
Generally, once OCD symptoms start they will get worse over time, they rarely get better without some type of intervention. Additionally, OCD symptoms can become more difficult to treat as they become more severe. The primary reason for this is that OCD reduces a persons "insight" or ability to understand the difference between OCD symptoms and "real" thoughts or concerns.
If you or a loved one seem to be experiencing any OCD symptoms it is my recommendation that you consult a mental health professional as soon as you are able. You may reach out to me to inquire about services or finding an OCD specialist in your area.