All about Male Muscle Dysmorphia
We often hear about body image disorders in women, but male body image disorders are not commonly discussed. However, male body image disorders do exist and are on the rise. One in particular, muscle dysmorphia, has been reported to be more common in men, and in particular, male body builders.
Muscle dysmorphia is a form of body dysmorphic disorder in which individuals develop a pathological preoccupation with their muscularity. Although these individuals may be highly muscular, they believe that they are of very small musculature and have a desire for greater muscularity. They report being dissatisfied with their body and have an undue weight and shape preoccupation.
Research has shown that men affected by muscle dysmorphia often practice unhealthy methods to improve their appearance. These include excessive weight lifting, strict dieting, dehydration methods, and use of anabolic steroids. Additionally, men with muscle dysmorphia have described shame, embarrassment, and impairment of social and occupational functioning in association with their condition.
Although shame and embarrassment about your appearance may keep you from seeking treatment, if you have any signs or symptoms of muscle dysmorphia it is really important to get help since muscle dysmorphia rarely goes away on its own. And, if untreated, this condition may get worse over time and lead to suicidal thoughts and behavior. Contact your health care professional to discuss.
Tips to Help Prepare You to Talk to Your Doctor
- Being an active participant in your care can help your efforts to manage your condition. Think about your needs and goals for treatment, and write down a list of questions to ask. These questions might include:
- How do you treat muscle dysmorphia?
- How long will treatment take?
- What can I do to help myself?
- Will psychotherapy help me?
- Get prepped to answer some of the questions your doctor might have for you. These may include:
- What are your symptoms?
- When did you first notice your symptoms?
- How much time a day do you spend thinking about your appearance?
- What have you tried on your own to feel better about your appearance?
- Do you have any relatives with a mental illness?
- What medications or over-the-counter supplements do you take?
While you wait for your appointment with your doctor, there are some things you can do to support yourself.
Tips to Support Yourself
- Write in a journal to express how you feel.
- Take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet and getting adequate sleep.
- Get together with friends and family regularly. In other words, don't isolate yourself.
- Learn about muscle dysmorphia by doing research like you are doing now. Educating yourself about the disorder can empower you to understand and stick to a treatment plan.
- Pay attention to what triggers your feelings of dissatisfaction with your body.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol - these can worsen your symptoms.
Note: Be sure to contact your doctor of mental health care provider. Remember that muscle dysmorphia rarely gets better on its own, and if untreated can get worse and lead to suicidal thoughts or behavior.
Mayo Clinic Staff. "Body dismorphic disorder." MayoClinic.com. Web. 9 Apr. 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/body-dysmorphic-disorder/DS00559/DSECTION=symptoms
Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D., Harrison G. Pope, Jr., M.D., M.P.H., and James I. Hudson, M.D., S.M. "Muscle Dysmorphia in Male Weightlifters." Am J Psychiatry 157:1291-1296, August 2000. Web. 9 Apr. 2010. http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/157/8/1291
Williams, M. "Body Image & Eating Disorders in Males." Brainphysics.com. Web. 9 Apr. 2010. http://www.brainphysics.com/muscle-dysmorphia.php
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Ice Falls Can Cause Serious Injuries
- 2. Can Inactivity Act Like a Disease?
- 3. Kale Snack Recipe for Diabetics
- 4. How Running Affects Arthritis
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.