I am doing a project on muscle dysmorphia for my sports psychology class. I know that this is something very personal, but if anyone has any experience with the disorder could you please give me some insight into what it's like? Do you think that this is a real disorder? Or is it just something that doctors made up to try and bring you down? Basically I would like to see what everyone thinks about the subject.
Here is a little history for those that have never heard of it............
Muscle dysmorphia (bigorexia)
* What is muscle dysmorphia?
Sometimes called bigorexia, muscle dysmorphia is the opposite of anorexia nervosa. People with this disorder obsess about being small and undeveloped. They worry that they are too little and too frail. Even if they have good muscle mass, they believe their muscles are inadequate.
In efforts to fix their perceived smallness, people with muscle dysmorphia lift weights, do resistance training, and exercise compulsively. They may take steroids or other muscle-building drugs, a practice with potentially lethal consequences.
* Who gets muscle dysmorphia?
Both men and women. So far there are no statistics available, but researchers suspect the disorder is more common in males since the culturally defined ideal male is big and strong while the ideal female is small and thin.
* Consequences of muscle dysmorphia
The constant preoccupation with perceived smallness interferes with school and career accomplishments. It robs friendships and romantic relationships of spontaneity and enjoyment. Since the person is exceedingly self-conscious at all times, s/he cannot relax and enjoy life without worrying about how other people may be seeing, and criticizing, the perceived smallness.
In almost all cases, people with muscle dysmorphia are not small at all. Many have well-developed musculature, and some even compete in body building competitions.
Muscle dysmorphia may be one kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder. People with this problem cannot or will not stop their excessive exercise even when they are injured. If they abuse steroids in service of building bulk, they will not give up this unhealthy practice even when they fully understand the risks involved.
* Treatment of muscle dysmorphia
Many people with this problem resist getting treatment stating that they are content with the way they are. Some admit they are afraid that if they give up the drugs and exercise, they will wither away to frailty.
Family members and concerned friends may be able to persuade the person to at least get an evaluation by focusing on the problems caused by the behaviors, such as job loss, relationship failure, and physical harm.
Nonetheless, about half of people with this problem are so convinced of their perceived smallness that they refuse help and continue their excessive exercise and steroid use.
For those who enter treatment, cognitive-behavioral therapy combined with medication holds promise. The best place to start is an evaluation by a physician trained in sports medicine. Ask for a referral to a mental health counselor who also works with athletes. After both professionals have completed their evaluations, consider their recommendations and choose a course of action that is in your own best interests.
I'm not looking to start a fight, I just want to have a mature conversation about this. Thank you.