Muscle Dysmorphia

One of the most common body image disorders among male athletes is muscle dysmorphia. When an athlete sees himself as too small with little muscle, when in fact he is big and muscular, he may be experiencing muscle dysmorphia. How he sees himself does not match how he looks in reality, much like how people with anorexia see themselves.

Because of this similarity, muscle dysmorphia is often called "reverse anorexia", as people with this disorder want to lose body fat, get bigger and gain weight instead of losing it. This disorder comes from fears that many male athletes have about being too small, leading them to try to gain weight and muscle through excessive working out, and taking steroids or nutritional supplements. Most become preoccupied with food, dieting, weight and size. Even though they may already be muscular, these men are also embarrassed by their bodies and often attempt to avoid showing themselves.

The problem with muscle dysmorphia among athletes is that it involves behaviours that are very similar to the regular routines of athletes. Most coaches are pleased to see their athletes train hard, exercise frequently, and watch their diet. As a result, muscle dysmorphia often goes unnoticed as a problem, because the behaviours are thought of as "normal" for athletes. Although dedication, discipline and hard work are important to become an accomplished athlete, they become a problem when they are taken to an extreme and begin to interfere with other areas of life and cause anxiety.