Bigorexia affects one in ten male British gym-goers, and can have fatal consequences. It is far from a new condition, yet many are unaware of its existence and the lives it affects. Recently the British media began to shine a light on it by covering different personal stories, expert opinions and what the NHS deems to be the likely causes. Here’s what we know.
According to the Independent, it’s formally known as muscle dysmorphia, a condition where sufferer’s desire to become muscular is taken to the extreme. Aside from anxiety and steroid use, it can have fatal consequences such as heart attacks, strokes or lead one to suicide. It is sometimes referred to as reverse anorexia.
Symptoms include working out compulsively, prioritising workouts over relationships with friends and family, body obsession as well as the abuse of anabolic steroids, protein shakes or supplements. According to the NHS, bigorexia might be caused by an imbalance in the brain, or a genetic disorder.
The Daily Mail Online reported on the tragic case of Oli Loyne. At 20 years of age he had already suffered one stroke and three heart attacks, he never recovered from his third one. His mother said he became obsessed with working out and there was just no way of getting through to him. The NHS believes life experiences such as bullying can have an impact on who develops muscle dysmorphia. Oli Loyne was about 5,2”, a fact which according to his mother fuelled his desire of getting bigger.
BBC Newsbeat interviewed Rob Willson, who is the chair of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation. Mr Willson believes this is a growing issue where unfortunately many cases aren’t diagnosed due to a lack of awareness in society. They also reported on Adam Trice, 31, who lost his girlfriend, job, and home due to the disorder. Following an attempted suicide he ended up in a hospital. He says it was a lot of therapy that helped him through it and that he’s finally learned to like himself.
To learn more, and to get the full story, have a look at BBC Newsbeat’s coverage. They asked a bigorexia sufferer to record his daily routine for viewers to try and understand how it affects a person both physically and mentally.