This is also known as Bigorexia and Megorexia.
There has been an increase in this disorder over recent years. It mostly affect men but not exclusively. People become obsessed with becoming leaner and more muscular. It becomes a continuous race to get bigger while never feeling they are good enough. This can lead to high levels of distress and changes in behaviour. People spend all their time at the gym and avoid social events, partly through having no time but also due to the perceived negative judgement from others.It may even cause them to lose their job.
It is common for people to continue training through injury rather than reduce their fitness schedule. Unable to achieve their perfect body image, the MD bodybuilder may spend huge amounts of money on nutritional supplements and may eventually start to use anabolic steroids. These drugs produce rapid increases in lean muscle mass with few immediate side effects. However, prolonged use is associated with raised cholesterol, prostate enlargement, male-pattern baldness, acne, gynaecomastia and testicular atrophy. They are known to cause paranoia leading to an increased fear of judgement. Withdrawal from a cycle of steroids can lead to depression and has been associated with suicide
Diagnosing Muscle Dysmorphia
The primary focus of the pre-occupation and behaviours is on being small or inadequately muscular, as distinguished from fear of being fat as in Anorexia , or a primary preoccupation only with other aspects of appearance as in other forms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
Muscle Dysmorphia can be effectively treated with a specialised program of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.