Monday, April 26, 2010
So, what is Bigorexia?
Bigorexia is a dysmorphic disorders similar to anorexia. Although most bigorexia patients are men, reflecting a male beauty standard which places an emphasis on being big and strong, women can suffer from this condition as well. Like Anorexia, bigorexia stems from a disconnection between the person’s perception of their body, and their actual body. Huge jacked up men with arms the size of trashcans may look in the mirror and see a weakling, and then scold themselves for not working harder.
It is sometimes hard to identify the signs or bigorexia and not confuse them with athletic determination and vanity. One of the key symptoms of bigorexia is a persistent and hard weight training program which focuses building muscle. At face value, this does not seem like a disorder, however, patients will train through pain and injuries, and even neglect work and family obligations to train. Steroid use is a common symptom, as well as constant mirror checking.
Like anorexia patients, they view their bodies as imperfect, and therefore they do not want to expose themselves to the judgment of others. So unlike many body builders who enjoy the opportunity to show their physique in public bigorexics do not. I even found a story of one man who avoided sex with his wife in case it used up energy he could apply to bodybuilding.
A big problem with bigorexia is that there has been very little research done to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments. In fact, at this time there have been no studies to compare the effectiveness of one treatment over another. Another huge problem with treatment is that, rather like anorexics, men rarely see themselves as having a problem and are unlikely to come forward for treatment. When they do however, treatment for bigorexia involves long term psychological care. Patients are recommended to attend regular counseling. Psychiatric drugs may be used to manage depression. Support from friends and a family member is also critical.
In the end, it is easy to misunderstand bigorexia and poke fun at the people who suffer from it. But the fact of the matter is, bigorexia is real, debilitating, and just has big of a problem as anorexia.