What is bigorexia and what are the signs?
Bigorexia is an anxiety disorder that’s hitting the headlines as it’s feared that one in 10 men who regularly go to the gym could be suffering from it.
What is bigorexia however? It is also sometimes referred to as muscle dysmorphia or reverse anorexia and it has become more of a concern in recent years as research shows that men are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their perceived body images. Although it’s far more likely to affect men, women have been known to suffer from the condition as well.
Typically, those suffering with it will become obsessed with the size of their muscles and will have excess concerns about appearing physically weak or underdeveloped. Other symptoms may include:
- Overexerting themselves at the gym
- Working out compulsively
- Use of steroids
- Excessively looking at their body in the mirror
- Abuse of supplements and constantly drinking protein shakes
- Irritability and angry outbursts
- Depression and mania
- Panicking if a gym session is missed
- Forcing themselves to train even if they’re injured
- Prioritising working out over family and social life
What causes bigorexia
Unfortunately, experts don’t have a clear understanding of what causes bigorexia or muscle dysmorphia just yet but like other compulsive disorders, research suggests that there are a number of factors which could contribute to it:
- Genetics - those who have a relative suffering from the condition may be more likely to develop it
- Brain differences - it’s thought that people with muscle dysmorphia may have insufficient levels of serotonin which is an important transmitter in the brain that affects mood and well-being
- Environment - childhood environment, family issues, bullying, emotional trauma and cultural factors may increase a person’s risk of developing the condition