Hands up if you’re guilty of laughing at guys who shred obsessive-compulsively (#shreddingforstereo)?
But there’s a serious edge to all the LOLs – and it might mean some of your mates are suffering from genuine body image issues.
According to the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation, 1 in 10 male gym-goers suffer from a specific kind of body dysmorphia, popularly known as ‘Bigorexia’.
The mental illness causes compulsively worrying that a person isn’t buff enough (despite actually being super-ripped), which causes him to work out obsessively and/or resort to steroids in an effort to shred more effectively.
Also described as ‘reverse-anorexia’, Chair of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation, Rob Willson, says the issue is a real concern:
“Muscle dysmorphia is a preoccupation with the idea that one isn’t big enough, isn’t muscular enough.
There are thousands upon thousands with it, who are going to be excessively concerned about their appearance, having very poor self-esteem, and also feeling very worried.
So individuals can become very depressed and hopeless and that can even lead to suicide.”
Bigorexia has been classed as an anxiety disorder by the UK National Health Services (NHS) and affects both men and women, though it’s much more common in guys.
More common signs include:
- Overexertion at the gym
- Working out compulsively
- Use of anabolic steroids
- Excessively looking at your body in the mirror
- Abuse of supplements and constant drinking of protein shakes
- Irritability and angry outbursts
- Depression and mania
- Panic if you miss your gym session
- Training while injured
- Prioritising working out over family and social life
While the root of its cause is still TBD, experts reckon it’s likely genetic or due to a chemical imbalance in the brain.
A new doco by BBC‘s Newsbeat gives an insight into the minds of male sufferers of Bigorexia, and makes for some pretty harrowing viewing.
London-based Pradeep describes the impact it has on his self esteem:
“I’m definitely small and I tell myself, ‘What’s happened to you? You’re small, what’s wrong with you? Look at yourself, what have you done?’ I’ll start beating myself quite hard.
“I have a vicious internal dialogue. It will say, ‘Man up, what are you doing?’
“It will be a very negative discussion that will slowly plummet myself into further anxiety and depression.”
You can watch the doco in full here:
If you think you might be experiencing a mental health issue, visit BeyondBlue or give them a call on 1300 22 4636.