Home Mental disorders Vigorexia: definition, causes, symptoms and treatment

Vigorexia: definition, causes, symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Playing sports regularly is not only beneficial for our health but should be something inescapable for everyone. Exercising is the best medicine we have at hand, a natural and easy way to keep our bodies active and healthy. However, like everything in life, excess can be dangerous. Vigorexia is an excessive obsession with exercise and muscle development, it is not about wanting to be very strong or very big, it is an alteration in perception that makes them look small and weak when in reality they are not.

Discovered in 1993, in the last decades, the people affected by this disorder have not stopped increasing year after year. Continuous exposure to perfect bodies in the media and advertising have a lot to do with it, but if you want to know why this disease originates and what it exactly means, keep reading this FastlyHealarticle about vigorexia: what it is and what causes it .

Vigorexia: definition

Vigorexia, inverse anorexia or muscular dystrophy is considered an OCD – obsessive compulsive disorder – that primarily affects men. This disorder makes them feel weak or small even though they are generally very muscular. As with anorexia, people with vigorexia see a distorted image of themselves , obsessing over their appearance.

This excessive concern about their own image causes them to develop a very muscular body , they give great importance to food and their way of life, however, they are unable to see when they should stop, because they never look strong or big enough . With the desire to get the body they want, they spend hours and hours in the gym, and even when they are not working their physique they are thinking of ways to correct their imperfections, noticing everything they eat.

In depending on which cases they can resort to anabolics to further enhance their muscle development, ignoring the dire consequences it can have for their body. In fact, in the most severe cases they may even avoid social contact because they think they are too weak or too thin.

Causes of vigorexia

Dysmorphic disorders such as vigorexia have a cultural background . In fact, in recent years the cases of people with this problem have skyrocketed. The image of men and women that the media and advertising portray create standards of beauty that people want to follow. In fact, in the last 30 years the percentage of men who say they are dissatisfied with their own bodies has increased by 15%.

But not everything can be reduced to a social and fashion issue, there are factors of the person that predispose them to suffer this type of disorder. In this sense, there are a series of factors specific to the person and the environment in which they have been educated that can function as accelerators or triggers of the problem :

  • 80% of the cases of vigorexia are of men, reason why the men have more predisposition. Surely this is because men are the ones who have more social pressure to develop a muscular body.
  • Shy people, with a lack of self-esteem, who have suffered ridicule and harassment in childhood.
  • Introverted people with a high degree of perfectionism.
  • It has a biochemical root, since the brain levels of serotonin are altered.
  • People who have grown up in a conflictive environment or an unstructured family.
  • That they have received a very severe education based on aesthetic criteria.

Symptoms of vigorexia

The first and most obvious of the symptoms of vigorexia is that the person undergoes a hard, recurrent and persistent training in time aimed at burning fat and developing muscles. This has other side effects, which are not symptoms in themselves, but are caused by vigorexia, such as pain and injuries suffered by excessive physical activity.

Vigoréxic people tend to have many of the following characteristics and symptoms :

  • They suffer a distortion in the perception of their body image. No matter how strong or big it is, it always looks weak and small. This can be captured through the recurring and obsessive thoughts that you always have about yourself and others.
  • They have a great concern about their food and the diet they follow. This can lead to bulimia by way of control over what they eat.
  • They feel a compulsive and irrepressible need to play sports, if they cannot exercise they feel guilty and irritable.
  • The time they dedicate to sport is excessive, causing them to end up skipping the rest of the activities to focus on their body. Family, friends and work take a back seat, the most important thing for them is to be in the gym. Many of them end up working as instructors, as it is the only way they have to balance their obsession with the body with making money.

Consequences of vigorexia

The consequences of vigorexia are very broad and include physical, psychological and behavioral aspects in the person. On the one hand, the fact that it is increasingly necessary to dedicate more time to training means that they have to abandon friends, social relationships and get away from their partner. It is very difficult for them to maintain a partner, since most of their time is absorbed by the routines of the gym. In the same way, their studies and work are also resented, which go to the background and are abandoned if they cannot be combined with their physical activity.

This withdrawal from the world makes them feel more and more alone and misunderstood, so it is not strange that depression appears in a short time . It is estimated that about 60% of people with vigorexia also have depression .

But it is not only harmful on a psychological level, the physical consequences do not take long to come to light, because although exercising is something healthy and recommended, doing it in excess can also be dangerous. It is very common for there to be overloads and injuries that damage muscles, joints and bones. The injuries and pain are constant. In the event that you take anabolics on a regular basis, which is very common, the damage can spread to the kidneys and liver. These substances can also lead to shrinkage of the testicles, infertility , alopecia , hypertension and risk of heart attack, delusions and suicidal ideations.

Vigorexia: psychological treatment

As with anorexia, it is normal that the treatment for vigorexia, at first is aimed at treating the depression resulting from the disorder. Once the patient is stabilized, it is necessary to carry out a long-range therapy that is focused on treating the origin of the problem , the psychological or systemic causes that have led the person to develop this disorder. At this point, the support and help of the patient’s family and circle of friends is vital.

Little by little steps are being taken so that society recognizes the problem behind anorexia. In fact, it has only been a short time since gyms and sports centers have recognized the existence of this problem. It is there where protocols should be created to detect people who may suffer from vigorexia, since early diagnosis and treatment can avoid many of the dire consequences of this psychological alteration.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Vigorexia: what it is and causes , we recommend that you enter our category of Mental disorders .

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