Recovery Direct was recently asked to provide some insights into “Bigorexia” or muscle dysmorphia as a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder most frequently found in men that become obsessed with the “getting bigger”.
Here are the questions posed to us around “Bigorexia” along with the answers that may provide better insights into the condition.
- What kind of disorder does bigorexia fall under? Is it an eating disorder and body dysmorphia? OCD? All of this? Or do all of these belong to the same underlying pathology?
Bigorexia falls under Body Dysmorphic Disorder but can also be classified as an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- What is the underlying pathology here? What are people with muscle dysmorphia unconsciously trying to do?
People with Bigorexia have a false belief that they are smaller than they really are. The preoccupation is with putting more muscle or weight on. Like any obsessive compulsive disorder, the ends to which they can achieve this is limitless. The need to be bigger, less skinny or more muscular becomes all consuming, taking over various aspects of the individual’s life.
- Is this something limited to men or do women also suffer from this?
Bigorexia was thought to be an exclusively male related condition. However, it is also seen in females. The term is usually associated with males but the way in which the disorder manifests is not unique to one gender.
- Do you think that modern expectations and focus on physicality has contributed to a rise in this?
The huge focus on looks and physicality, proliferated across social media has certainly contributed to the culture of body-related issues. Hashtags like #fitfam #fitspo and #fitspiration are examples of the mass emphasis on the physical realm. The irony is that health is all about balance
- How do you know if you suffer from bigorexia? When does ‘fitness’ and ‘being strong and healthy’ cross over into obsession and self harm.
The first sign that you suffer from Bigorexia is when you find yourself shifting the goalposts. What was once big enough is now not nearly big enough. Another indication is that your relentless desire to change your appearance becomes all-consuming and other aspects of your life suffer.
- What should someone do if they think they – or someone they care for – is suffering from this?
The first step is to show support and a genuine desire to listen. Everyone wants to feel validated and heard and without that, progress cannot take place. If the person you care about is in distress, it would help to ascertain their willingness to speak to a therapist. Following this, a desire to begin to see oneself in a different light is important.
The Recovery Direct Centre
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