Bigorexia - Muscle Dysmorphia

A belief that muscles are too small

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 their muscles are too small. 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.

Bigorexia and the link with Anorexia Nervosa

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 people with Anorexia and Bulimia. They are also likely to have self-esteem and control issues in common.

Bigorexia and its impact on genders

Bigorexia is considered to affect more men than women and there may be connections between Bigorexia and Anorexia in terms of perceived gender ideals. Similarly to how the media portrays the ideal women as thin, it often portrays the ideal man as muscular and toned. This can contribute to body image issues in men and the development of Bigorexia.


“During the time I accessed the SWEDA Services I used both the Support Group and one to one counselling sessions. Both services used together offer the life raft that is so desperately needed to bring balance, stability and empowered choice."

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