Commonly referred to as reverse anorexia, or bigorexia, muscle dysmorphia is a disorder that is quite literally the polar opposite of anorexia. This disorder is experienced by those that never feel physically muscular enough. Those suffering from muscle dysmorphia will typically have a large amount of muscle mass, and will often be at a very high level of fitness. Those most likely to be suffering from it are professional bodybuilders, or men and women who compete in bodybuilding competitions.
Muscle dysmorphia is similar to anorexia because it is a form of body dysmorphic disorder that is characterized by a variety of obsessive-compulsive behaviors surrounding diet and fitness. These individuals suffering from this disorder will constantly obsess over their physical imperfections, and this perceived inadequacy can also affect many other areas of the person’s life. These feelings of inadequacy can often lead many to seek eating disorder treatment, or psychological help.
Anyone suffering from muscle dysmorphia, should look into some form of treatment in order to avoid the dangerous side effects that can occur. Potential side effects and medical complications that can result from muscle dysmorphia include damaged muscles, joints, cartilage, tendons, or ligaments due to compulsive weight-lifting regimens, and the unwillingness to allow muscles to recover from minor irritations or injury. There are several eating disorder treatment centers that can help those in need.
There has been limited research on muscle dysmorphia, so causes and triggers for this disorder need further research. It is most commonly seen in men, but can occur in women as well. Those that train often, and bodybuilders are the most likely victims. Exercise addiction can result in the development of bigorexia, and recent studies have shown that 10 percent of men who train obsessively suffer from this disorder.
Muscle dysmorphia is a curable mental disorder, and individuals suffering from this illness can work through their problems with proper treatment. Anyone suffering from this disorder should undergo some form of treatment in order to return to a healthy lifestyle, but similar to anorexia, many suffering will refuse treatment. Those who do enter treatment will receive help address underlying issues that may have caused the disorder. Individuals overcoming muscle dysmorphia are taught coping methods for dealing with life’s stressors in a healthy way in order to cope with the triggers and prevent a relapse.
Some conditions that are likely to be a contributing factor in those most likely to suffer from this disorder are jobs where image is the main factor such as bodybuilding, or modeling. A history of being bullied, or seeing others bullied. A history of domestic violence while growing up is another possible factor.
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