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Balance, Flexibilty and Trust | Eating Disorder Treatment Information

Bigorexia & Muscle Dysmorphia:
A Dangerous form of Body Dysmorphia

Muscle Dysmorphia is a type of body dysmorphic disorder that is sometimes referred to in professional or psychiatric circles as bigorexia; however the term used in scientific literate is muscle dysmorphia. This eating disorder is also called reverse anorexia because of its tendency to have opposite but similar effects as anorexia. However, the main difference between the two is that individuals suffering from anorexia aim to achieve an extremely thin physique, while individuals suffering from muscle dysmorphia are driven by an unquenchable desire to develop extremely large muscles. As with anorexic patients, in both conditions individuals develop obsessive behaviors and rigid diets in order to meet their goal yet someone with muscle dysmorphia, or bigorexia, is never satisfied they are big enough. This disorder can result in dangerous side effects if it allowed to progress, and individuals should receive treatment for bigorexia from an eating disorder treatment facility.

Muscle Dysmorphia vs. Healthy Weight Lifting

Muscle Dysmorphia, or bigorexia, is a mental disorder that most commonly occurs in men, but can also be seen in women. This disorder most often develops in individuals who workout or weight lift frequently and is especially prevalent in body builders. However, there is a difference between healthy levels of working out or weight lifting and muscle dysmorphia. For individuals suffering from muscle dysmorphia or bigorexia, weight lifting and building up their muscles becomes an obsession, to the extent of interfering with other parts of their life, damaging relationships or resulting in lost jobs. For individuals suffering from bigorexia, they are often unable to think about anything other than their desire to build bigger muscles even away from the gym and this drive can control the rest of their life including the development of extremely rigid diets or meal schedules.

Signs of Bigorexia

Because in today’s society there is a trend for men and women to be extremely fit, muscle dysmorphia is commonly under diagnosed and muscular men and women tend to be admired and seen as strong and attractive. However, if you believe that you or a loved one may be suffering from bigorexia, it is important to look for main signs and indicators of bigorexia in order to determine if it might be more than just a dedication to healthy working out and weightlifting. If you recognize the following signs of bigorexia in yourself or another individual, it is important to seek professional treatment as soon as possible.

  • An overwhelming belief that no matter how hard one tries, their body is never muscular enough
  • Frequently and compulsively looking at one’s self in the mirror
  • Maintaining a strict, usually high-protein and low-fat diet
  • A sense of disgust and disappointment in one’s physical appearance
  • Wearing baggy clothes to hide the size of one’s body
  • Using steroids or other body building products
  • Missing social events, skipping work, and ignoring family obligations in order to workout
  • Avoiding situations where one’s body might be exposed such as at the beach or pool
  • Working out even when injured or in pain often resulting in even greater injury
  • Using excessive amounts of food supplements
  • Maintaining extreme workout methods

Side Effects and Medical Complications of Bigorexia

Despite appearing physically fit, individuals suffering from reverse anorexia, or bigorexia, tend to be at a higher risk for a variety of medical complications. Additionally, there are several other negative side effects that can result from this disorder. Common complications and side effects of bigorexia include:

  • Damaged muscles, joints, and tendons
  • Self-hatred
  • Depression and suicide
  • Poor relationships
  • Negatively affected social, work, or school life
  • Inability to relax without worrying about judgment from others
  • Negative effects due to the abuse of steroids or other bodybuilding drugs

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