Muscle dysmorphia cases are rising to an alarming level. To look attractive, beautiful, and fit has been a wish for everyone at some age of life. There is no harm in having such desires. However, when someone becomes too obsessive about appearances, their mental health becomes disturbed. Muscle dysmorphia is itself a subtype of body dysmorphic disorder. The majority of young men suffer from muscle dysmorphia as they become obsessive over their body image.
Body image is a person’s perception of the sexual attractiveness of their own body. In simple words, it is one’s opinion about his/her body appearance. Moreover, this opinion is irrespective of the standards of sexuality and beauty set by society. Body image not only includes the perception of an individual about their body, their memories, thoughts, experiences, the ideology of life, and all attributes.
Furthermore, it consists of individual perception of their physical-attributes in comparison with the standards of society and culture. Body image affects an individual’s mental health.
Moreover, body image can be positive and negative. In the case of positive body image, the individual will feel confident, communicate well with others, and have good work performance. Furthermore, such a person will be mentally healthy. However, a person with a negative body image will have low-self-esteem, lack confidence, and feel ashamed of themselves.
Furthermore, they will have poor work performance. Such a condition of an individual can lead to body dysmorphic disorder or other mental illnesses.
Muscle dysmorphia is also known as bigorexia, megarexia, or reverse anorexia. It is a subtype of body dysmorphic disorder. In this disorder, people think of themselves as too slim, small, weak, and undeveloped. It is delusional thinking or exaggerating belief in which a person believes that he is too skinny and insufficiently muscular.
Furthermore, men believe that they are insufficiently lean. However, the muscle-build of these individuals is of standard or exceptionally large.
In the United Kingdom, one in every ten young men who go to the gym has muscle dysmorphia. Researchers came to know that the impact of muscle dysmorphia on mental health along with the complications is significant in young men.
Furthermore, the cause lies in altering ideas of masculinity and social media pressure. It leads to unhealthy eating habits, excessive weight training, and the use of anabolic steroids. Thus, it results in anxiety, depression, less social activities, and poor health.
Diagnosing Muscle Dysmorphia
The diagnosis of the disease is somewhat complicated. There are some self-reported surveys to help doctors diagnose patients with muscle dysmorphia. However, these surveys only determine symptoms relating to muscle dysmorphia. Furthermore, these surveys give no information that can lead to a quick diagnosis.
The desire of a person to have bigger muscles can help to diagnose a patient. Furthermore, people with steroid use are potentially suffering from muscle dysmorphia. They have eating problems and negative body image issues.
Moreover, they are always complaining regarding their general appearance, weight, and muscularity. They also have behavioral disorders and suffer from emotional disturbance.
Who Is More Likely To Develop Muscle Dysmorphia
Muscle dysmorphia is more common in men than in women. Furthermore, the ratio of young men is higher than older men. The disease is more likely to affect men above the age of 19 years. The majority of men develop muscle dysmorphia in their mid-20s to mid-30s.
Men in weightlifting and bodybuilding communities are more likely to suffer from the disease.
The percentage of people with the disease in other populations is unknown and requires further studies. However, 6% of United States students have muscle dysmorphia. In the US military, 4.2% of women and 12.7% of men have the disease. Furthermore, cognitive behavioral therapy is most effective in treating patients with muscle dysmorphia.