Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse
Muscular dysmorphia, or “bigorexia” is a term coined for a type of eating disorder in which bigger is better. It is also known as reverse anorexia. Bigorexia, unlike it’s counterpart, most often affects males. Experts believe there may be hundreds of thousands of men in the world who are currently affected. Signs and Symptoms include:
- The obsession with some real or imagined body flaw, in this case weakness or a lack of muscularity
- Preoccupation with size, strength, muscularity, and body fat ratio
- Continued exercise/training despite injury or lifestyle disturbance
- Preoccupation with weightlifting or bodybuilding
- Excessive “mirror-checking”
- Very strict dieting, possibly including comorbidity with bulimia (binging and self-induced vomiting)
- Low self-esteem/hiding from public with belief that the body is underdeveloped
- Abuse of/addiction to anabolic steroids, which may cause breast enlargement, impotence and testicular shrinkage
- A history of mood disorders such as depression or anxiety
Men are less likely to identify a problem with their mental or physical health and come forward for treatment. However, those that do are encouraged to undergo behavioral therapy in effort to alter current thinking patterns and portray a realistic body image.
Treatment for co-occurring disorders such as steroid abuse may also include hormonal therapy for withdrawal. In addition, other substance abuse issues may be present, Due to their appetite suppressing qualities, both cocaine and methamphetamine are common among these men.
Eating Disorders Non-Specified
Some eating disorders do not fall neatly into classifications. Some sufferers may find themselves with a combination of symptoms that encompass more than one category, or have characteristics not commonly seen. The non-specified eating disorder actually accounts for more than half of total disorders.
For example, someone with apparent anorexia may also binge and purge, or just purge.
Or, she may exhibit many signs of anorexia, such as laxative use and preoccupation with food, yet maintain a weight that is relatively normal There are also outliers, of course. Less common anomalies seen in eating disorders consist of the following:
- Chewing food to enjoy the taste, then spitting it out before swallowing
- Extreme selectivity when consuming food – only a small, finite number of foods are considered edible
- Binge eating only at night
Pica is an eating behavior in which the patient consumes typically non-edible objects, such as dirt, paper, soap, or pretty much anything. While those with pica do not typically have body dysmorphia/image issues like most with traditional eating disorders, the habit may invoke great health risks including malnutrition and digestion issues.
Treatment for Eating Disorders
Treatment will be determined based on symptoms, and may include intravenous fluids, therapy, and prescribed medication for depression and anxiety disorder.
Pica is a very unique condition specific to each individual. Medical complications vary and may include poisoning, anemia, bacterial infections, and intestinal blockages, among other symptoms.
If you suspect you or someone you know has a substance abuse disorder, please seek help immediately.