A larger problem ensues when described symptoms become present in the regular population of people who are using the gym – people who are not professional bodybuilders or weight lifters, people who are not participating in various competitions and have just simply started working out so that they could take better care of their health and become a bit fitter.
Fitness as a term or synonym for health is a word that is rapidly becoming more and more popular. Different branches of the fitness industry are in full development with more and more people deciding to give it a try to some of the numerous disciplines and sports which have become so well regarded.
Even though a lot of people today are familiar with the excessive and not so much fun side of the fitness industry, how many of us are really knowledgeable about different types of eating disorders or various addictions which have stemmed from the development of the fitness industry.
What is muscle dysmorphia?
Muscle dysmorphia, “the Reversed Anorexia” or “Bigorexia” is a disorder closely tied to the anxieties and personality of an individual. It is often defined as an eating disorder in which a person continuously perceives oneself as too thin, too small and with undeveloped muscle mass, while in reality the same person is of average weight and has a developed, or even overly developed, muscle body constitution.
With the exception of specific individual cases, muscle dysmorphia most often affects people who are heavily engaged in some aspect of the fitness industry – with the number one position going to the individuals who are professional bodybuilders or are involved with other disciplines in which the specific body look and muscle development is the sole purpose to doing exercise and physical activity. Individuals who achieve their body goal of having large body weight and large muscle mass still have a tendency to view themselves as too small and physically underdeveloped. This kind of perception leads to a path of making very harmful and dangerous life decisions such as the abuse of anabolic steroids and other types of drugs, medications and supplements. Furthermore, the individual obsessed with “better”, bigger and more muscular body look has a tendency to isolate and alienate oneself from other people. This individual often works out religiously, is heavily occupied with food and food supplements which he or she takes at an exactly specific time during the day and therefore completely neglects one’s friends and family members which further leads into an unhealthy lifestyle where the obsession over one’s body is the entire purpose of living.
A larger problem ensues when described symptoms become present in the regular population of people who are using the gym – people who are not professional bodybuilders or weight lifters, people who are not participating in various competitions and have just simply started working out so that they could take better care of their health and become a bit fitter. There is no doubt that physical exercise has positive effects for one’s body, however, the problem ensues when we take this into the extreme and become fixated on just one thing. In this case, that “thing” is one’s body shape which become the center of one’s existence which, as we already stated, can lead to “average” men and women abusing anabolic steroids and other types of drugs which just intensifies the problem at hand and distorts our self-perception even more. Moreover, the unhealthy amount of body and muscle weight that some people on this path gain only exerts additional pressures to the heart, the entire cardiovascular system and other organs. This is a clear path to grave health difficulties and problems later in life, and at the center of all this is the said distorted self-perception. And if you think that this problem is an extremely small problem, we should point out the results of various studies which show that about 10% of people who are regularly using the average gym facility could potentially have some form of muscle dysmorphia.
Researchers are still trying to determine the exact cause of this disorder, even though it’s clear that there are multiple causes. Genetic predisposition plays a key role in this development, even though the outside factors, such as the person’s surroundings and society at large, must not be ignored. Pressures from the outside, be it our friends or family members, experienced abused and deeper traumas, as well as distorted image of large muscular people who are immediately connected to large success and wealth that the fitness industry promotes could present the initiating force which pushes some people into the cruel circle of drug abuse and fixation on food and body image.
Therapy of these types of disorders is very complex and completely depends on the severity of such disorder, as well as the comorbidity with other psychological disorders. However, the first step in always the same – admitting to oneself that there is a problem and seeking professional help and support after that.