Prevalence of body dysmorphic disorder in a community sample of women

Am J Psychiatry. 2001 Dec;158(12):2061-3. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.158.12.2061.


Objective: In a large population-based study, the authors examined the prevalence and correlates of body dysmorphic disorder, a debilitating and chronic condition characterized by an imagined defect in appearance.

Method: Rates and diagnostic correlates of body dysmorphic disorder were examined by using data from the Harvard Study of Moods and Cycles. This study used in-person structured clinical interviews to characterize the diagnostic status of a population-based, cross-sectional sample of 318 depressed and 658 nondepressed women between the ages of 36 and 44 who were selected from seven Boston metropolitan area communities.

Results: The presence of body dysmorphic disorder was significantly associated with the presence of major depression and anxiety disorders. The authors estimated the overall point prevalence of body dysmorphic disorder as 0.7% in women in this age range in the community.

Conclusions: The authors found that the presence of body dysmorphic disorder was linked to the presence of major depression and anxiety disorders, which is similar to findings in clinical studies. Their estimate of the point prevalence of body dysmorphic disorder is consistent with data from a community-based sample of Italian women and suggests a prevalence similar to that of other serious psychiatric disorders in women (e.g., schizophrenia and drug abuse and dependence). These prevalence data encourage the further development of treatment options for this debilitating condition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Boston / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Personality Assessment
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatoform Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*