There is limited information on the prevalence of Factitious Disorder. Standard epidemiological techniques are constrained by the fact that Factitious Disorder always involves deception and sometimes peregrination as well, and so it often may not be recognized. On the other hand, the chronic form of the disorder may be overreported because affected individuals appear to different physicians at different hospitals, often under different names. The best data indicate that, within large general hospitals, Factitious Disorder is diagnosed in around 1% of patients on whom mental health professionals consult. The prevalence appears to be greater in highly specialized treatment settings. Presentations with Predominantly Psychological Signs and Symptoms are reported much less commonly than those with Predominantly Physical Signs and Symptoms.
Specific Gender Features
Factitious Disorder is more common in females than in males. However, the most chronic and severe (Munchausen) variant appears to be more frequent in males than in females.
The course of Factitious Disorder usually consists of intermittent episodes. Less common is a single episode or chronic, unremitting illness. The onset is usually in early adulthood, often after a hospitalization for a general medical condition or other mental disorder. In the chronic form of this disorder, a pattern of successive hospitalizations may become a lifelong pattern.