Body image refers to the way people and, in this case, how teens feel about their bodies, not how they actually look. Having a healthy body image refers to being satisfied with one’s appearance. When a teen is unhappy with their appearance, they may become preoccupied with their body image.
Almost every adolescent is susceptible to developing body dissatisfaction to some extent. Body image awareness is a normal component of adolescence because the teen body is evolving so swiftly. But for some teenagers, attention gets completely consumed by body image.
What is Bigorexia?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) describes bigorexia as a body dysmorphic disorder that causes concern with the thought that your body is too small or lacks enough muscle.
Bigorexia is characterised by a fixation on the idea that there is something wrong with the way your body appears.
Bigorexia (also known as muscle dysmorphia) is a disorder that affects teenagers and makes them fixated on bodybuilding and gaining muscle. Although it is frequently linked to young males, it affects people of various sexes, ages, and backgrounds.
Children at younger ages are more likely to develop body image disorders like bigorexia as social influences shift and promote a more muscular physique. In one study, teenage boys were shown images of different body shapes created on a laptop.
Three questions were used to help each person determine their body type: What would you like your body to look like? What should the ideal male body look like, in your opinion? How do you believe others perceive the shape of your body? The participants were asked to choose the body type that most closely resembled their own after being shown several body kinds.
The boys chose body types for the first two questions that were 30 to 40 pounds heavier than the reference image, but their responses to the third question showed that they thought their bodies looked much weaker and smaller than they actually did.
Even some boys questioned whether they could enlarge the largest image. These troubling results demonstrate how perceptions can be distorted at an early age by shifting body image ideals, which have now been supported by other authors.
According to a piece in The New York Times, “Muscle worship has nearly become a digital rite of passage for many boys and young men in today’s beefcake-saturated culture. Examples are everywhere — the mesomorphic superheroes in the movies they watch, the hyper-masculine video games they play.”
Also in The New York Times, boys as young as 10 have consulted their favourite online bodybuilders for tips on developing a “Dorito physique”. Because self-esteem and confidence are so closely correlated with body image, society may be creating a generation of boys and girls who are unhappy with their bodies not because they are unattractive but because they are told they need to look better.
What is the cause of Bigorexia?
Bigorexia is a medical disorder with complicated psychological and biological roots that has just lately been recognised. However, cultural pressures and media depictions of the “perfect” male body image are not the only factors contributing to the worrisome rise in muscular dysmorphia.
According to several studies, muscle dysmorphia is an obsessive-compulsive disorder subgroup. Others have demonstrated that it might be a response to poor self-esteem, sexual or physical assault which is yet to be proven, childhood bullying, having a perfectionistic personality, or living with another mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression.
Probable Symptoms to watch
Experts have suggested that there are a number of symptoms to look out for if your child or someone you know is going through Bigorexia. They are as follows:
- Putting in excessive effort in the gym.
- Exercising compulsively.
- Anxiety and obsession
- Taking steroids.
- Excessive mirror-gazing.
- Supplement abuse, and a continual need to consume protein.
- Irritability and explosive anger.
- Not having time for family and friends, in order to exercise.
- Avoiding to see yourself in the mirror.
- Attempting to conceal a bodily portion.
- Constantly comparing yourself to others.
- Always seeking other’s opinion on how you look.
- Not trusting people’ statements that you look good.
- Undergoing needless plastic surgery.
- Feeling ashamed.
- Anxiety and Depression.
- Ideas of suicide.
Not all of these can be put down due to Bigorexia but these have been suggested to be a likely sign that is a link to it.
What can be done?
Given that puberty is a fragile time of numerous changes, muscular Body Dysmorphic Disorder in boys and young men can be especially upsetting. However, Bigorexia symptoms in adolescence are frequently transient and go away as the person ages. Teens with Bigorexia must be closely watched and given the necessary psychological support, as untreated instances may last until adulthood.
There are a number of charities and organisations that can help provide the support people need who are going through this. Counselling, mental health coaching and support sessions are all available for children and young people who are in need.
The first step is to identify if a young child is affected by muscular dysmorphia because many persons with the disorder are unaware they have it. Despite the lack of a precise pharmaceutical remedy at this time, a professional can assist in locating recurring patterns of negative thoughts and actions that might be the cause of the issue.
For Bigorexia, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that is incredibly helpful. Although CBT is still the preferred treatment, several antidepressants have been shown to be successful in treating the obsessive-compulsive aspect of muscular dysmorphia. It is advisable you talk to your Health practitioner of any concerns. If you believe you or someone you know has bigorexia, get medical help as soon as you can. The best chance of having a full recovery is to get treatment as soon as possible.