Bigorexia - Muscle Dysmorphia

Bigorexia, sometimes called 'Reverse Anorexia' or 'Muscle Dysmorphia' is a term used to describe behaviour whereby the individual has a distorted view of themselves and belief that they are too small, in a muscular sense, when they are not. Such behaviour is sometimes seen in bodybuilders and strength athletes and can be severely socially disabling, with individuals afraid to be seen in public or wearing large clothes to disguise their bodies.

Although unrecognised, some members of the scientific community do consider it to be linked to eating disorders, in particular anorexia nervosa. Similarly, body image distortions and extreme preoccupations to remedy the situation occur, albeit in a reverse direction. The use of steroids and anabolic agents, and the associated health risks to achieve the desired goal, may be seen to be strikingly similar to the use of laxatives, diuretics and slimming pills in anorexia and bulimia nervosa sufferers. They are also likely to have self-esteem and 'coping' issues in common. Bigorexia is considered to affect more men than women and there may be connections between Bigorexia and anorexia nervosa in terms of perceived gender ideals.


“I saw a SWEDA support worker on campus at university. I had been struggling with binge eating disorder and compulsive exercise for about ten years. The SWEDA support worker was able to help me look at my relationship with food and my body in a different way. I have learned to be kinder to myself and they taught me techniques which helped me to slow down my thinking. Now I can go out and have fun without worrying all the time.”

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