By Katharine Phillips, MD
Body Dysmorphic Disorder affects 1.7% to 2.9% of the general population — about 1 in 50 people. This means that more than 5 million people to nearly 10 million people in the United States alone have BDD. It’s possible that BDD may be even more common than this, because people with this disorder are often reluctant to reveal their BDD symptoms to others.
BDD is about as common as, or perhaps more common than, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and more common than disorders such as anorexia nervosa and schizophrenia.
BDD affects an even higher proportion of people who are seen in various health care settings (e.g., cosmetic surgery, cosmetic dental, adult orthodontia, dental, or mental health settings).
Some studies also asked how common other psychiatric disorders were among the people they studied and found that even more people had BDD than had other disorders that are considered to be common, such as social anxiety disorder (social phobia) and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Katharine A. Phillips, MD, is Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University, and Attending Psychiatrist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, both in New York City. She is also Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, RI. She is internationally known for her pioneering research and clinical expertise in body dysmorphic disorder. She is author of The Broken Mirror: Understanding and Treating Body Dysmorphic Disorder(Revised and Expanded Edition) (2005), Understanding Body Dysmorphic Disorder: An Essential Guide (2009), and Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Advances in Research and Clinical Practice (2017) (all published by Oxford University Press). She is also co-author of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Body Dysmorphic Disorder: A Treatment Manual, published by Guilford Press in 2013 (with Drs. Sabine Wilhelm and Gail Steketee) and The Adonis Complex: The Secret Crisis of Male Body Obsession, published by The Free Press in 2000 (with Drs. Harrison Pope and Roberto Olivardia).