Everyone is concerned about beauty and wants a perfect physique and look. Men and women these days are equally concerned about their body parts, beauty, and a perfect killer look.
A Growing Inferiority Complex: Muscle Dysmorphia
The madness around appearance and looks have left many to feel inferior. The situation has gone to the limits that it can lead to mental health issues.
What is Muscle Dysmorphia?
Body dysmorphic disorder or BDD is one such mental disorder when people are extremely concerned about the perfection of their body parts. They think about some or other flaw in their body, which might not even be present in the first place. This is observed both in men and women.
Muscle dysmorphia (MD) is a subclass of body dysmorphic disorder in which a person is concerned about body size and muscles. Even with a fine weight and healthy muscle density, a person feels he lacks in muscles. The physique is small.
MD generally affects men. Men who are involved in muscular activities, bodybuilding etc., are at higher risk of getting muscle dysmorphia. Even female bodybuilders can experience this mental disorder.
In MD, people are not concerned about how thin they can get, but on the contrary, they want to grow more, more muscular. The muscle dysmorphia is therefore sometimes referred to as bigorexia or reverse anorexia informally. People suffering from MD have a conception that they lack muscles or are small in size.
While it is clear and accepted by all that MD is nothing but a subclass of BDD, debates are still on whether to consider MD as an eating disorder, behaviour addiction or if it is obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Causes of Muscle Dysmorphia
You think and become what you are involved in. As the disorder is mainly reported among men involved in sports, muscle building etc., and is also starting to increase in female bodybuilders, one can ascertain that the problem lies in work itself.
- Perfectionism: In a world running after and craving for achieving perfection in everything, the idea of perfectionism can prove dangerous. When involved in muscle building, people try to achieve some ideal, perfect physique. This obsession for perfectionism can ultimately lead to MD.
- Low self-esteem: Making opinions about yourself, about your body, based upon some hypothetical and so-called ideal concepts may lead one to think low of himself. A notion that your body is not perfect, not ideal, might cause MD.
- Social anxiety: We want to fit in. We want to be praised and loved by society. We want approval and acceptance from society about almost everything. This makes us anxious. Social anxiety can developmental disorders as muscle dysmorphia.
- Industrial propaganda: Commercials coming on TV, on magazines, the internet, and every other place are scripted in a way that people fall for their products. Have you noticed how the commercials sound like-“Do you want to build muscles like him…, want fast and easy results…, Is your body perfect…,” and so on. People might fall for such things to attain something perfect and unrealistic. The result, not an ideal muscular body but muscle dysmorphia.
How to recognize MD
The diagnosis does not require any medical intervention. A person’s behaviour and actions may reveal it all.
The idea that the person is not big enough is exercising heavily and doing more weight lifting than what is required to achieve perfection, showing eating disorders, etc., shows the symptoms of muscle dysmorphia.
Muscle dysmorphia also makes a person depressed if he/she misses his scheduled exercise plan. The person does not tend to socialize if it affects the exercise routine. Relationships are not a priority over their exercise regime.
Md can be as extreme as one might be depressed all the time and can have suicidal thoughts as well.
How to Deal with Muscle Dysmorphia?
Early intervention can help the situation to get worse. If one seems to develop MD or is clinically assessed to have MD, then a physician should be contacted.
Trainers, coaches, athletes and sportsmen should be educated about body dysmorphic disorder and muscle disorder to prevent the onset or recognize the early signs of MD.
Acceptance of the disorder, counseling, and therapies can benefit a person suffering from MD. Some antidepressant medications can be prescribed.