Bigorexia:How Big Is Big Enough?

What is Bigorexia?

Bigorexia is a disorder in which a person constantly worries about appearing too small and weak looking. Those with bigorexia suffer from the opposite problem of someone in need of anorexia treatment. Other common names for bigorexia include muscle dysmorphia and reverse anorexia. Those with this disorder are not frail or underdeveloped at all, typically having large muscle mass. Many of these people can be seen competing in body building competitions.

This disorder is a form of body dysmorphic disorder and is related to obsessive-compulsive disorder. Those with muscle dysmorphia constantly obsess over their imperfections, further distorting their perception of themselves. Inadequacy felt by those with reverse anorexia affects many areas of life, ranging from personal relationships to physical and emotional health. Such dissatisfaction with body image is common in those with eating disorders, which is why so many people seek eating disorder treatment.

Who has Bigorexia?

Both men and women can be affected by this disorder, although men are most susceptible. Gym-goers and bodybuilders are other popular candidates for muscle dysmorphia. In fact, approximately 10% of the men who are obsessive gym-goers have this disorder.

Although it is typically assumed that eating disorders are a “women’s problem”, men today are becoming more and more dissatisfied with their bodies, contributing to the rise of people with muscle dysmorphia. In fact, a large percentage of men would consider chest implants to get larger pectorals, with an even greater number completely unsatisfied with their bodies in general. One reason bigorexia may be an uncommon disorder is because of the common stereotype that men are supposed to be big and strong.

Ten Common Signs of Bigorexia

  1. Frequently looking at one’s self in the mirror
  2. Maintaining a strict, high-protein and low-fat diet
  3. Wearing baggy clothes to hide the size of one’s body
  4. Using steroids or other body building products
  5. Missing social events, skipping work and ignoring one’s family in order to workout
  6. Avoiding situations where one’s body might be exposed
  7. Working out even when injured
  8. Using excessive amounts of food supplements
  9. Never being satisfied with the muscular mass of one’s body
  10. Maintaining extreme workout methods

Risks/Complications of Bigorexia

Some problems that may arise as a result of this disorder include:

  • Damaged muscles, joints and tendons
  • Self hatred
  • Poor relationships, negatively affected social life
  • Interference with work and school
  • Inability to relax without constantly worrying about the judgment of others
  • Depression, suicide
  • Hazardous effects of steroids and other bodybuilding drugs

For those with bigorexia who find themselves struggling with depression, depression treatment facilities are available to help. These centers, as well as eating disorder treatment centers can be very beneficial to someone with bigorexia.