By Katharine Phillips, MD Body Dysmorphic Disorder currently affects 1.7% to 2.9% of the general population. This means that more than 5 million people to nearly 10 million people in the United States alone have BDD. These numbers are based on five nationwide population-based prevalence studies. 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 due to embarrassment and shame.
This means that 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). For example, the prevalence of BDD is 11-13% in dermatology settings, 13-15% in general cosmetic surgery settings, and 20% in rhinoplasty surgery settings.
BDD is more common in women than in men in general population studies (approximately 60% women versus 40% men). However, it is more common in men than in women in cosmetic surgery and dermatology settings.
Some studies have examined 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 Phillips, MD, is internationally known for her pioneering research and clinical work in body dysmorphic disorder and related conditions. She has published more than 350 scientific papers, and she has authored or edited nine books on BDD and obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, including a 2017 edited volume on BDD (published by Oxford University Press). She provides evaluation and treatment for patients in her clinical practice in New York City, where she is Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Phillips is also a member of the IOCDF’s Scientific and Clinical Advisory Board. To learn more visit www.KatharinePhillipsMD.com.