Is Teenage Bigorexia A Growing Problem? We Look At Body Dysmorphia
Is there a growing concern for adolescents and their mental well being?
With many TV celebrities looking ‘jacked and ripped’ there is an increasing number of adolescents who are looking to emulate the celebrity stars.
It seems that with an increasing gym culture exacerbated by online social media stars like the late Rich Piana, getting big and massive is now part and parcel of a lot of young makes lives.
One could argue that a increasing gym culture is healthy and it is great to keep fit and in shape, to what extent does this include mental health?
Is this wave of massive pecs and ripped abs having a negative effect on well being, not to mention that many of the exercises young men are participating in rarely includes any anaerobic exercise that could benefit their cardiovascular system.
We are talking about muscle dysmorphia, and, it is often joked that once your start lifting weights you will never be big enough.
However, bigorexia and muscle dysmorphia are very real afflictions which seem only to be raising in popularity, partly because so many more people are lifting weights.
This is a psychological illness which falls within the realms of a body dysmorphic disorder which the person affected has a obsessive desire to obtain a muscular physique.
This is a condition that according to the BBC affects 10% of gym goers.
With the norm now seen as being bigger and more muscular people are peer pressured in to looking the same, a bit like when you had to all wear the same sneakers at school.
What at first may seem like a harmless and healthy desire to get fitter and stronger – and there are an overwhelming number of benefits for being so – can lead to extreme diets, cycling cutting and bulking phases which may lead to steroids or pro hormones when they feel the initial yield of results are not progressing at the same rate.
This can be particularly true when their peers, one or a few may have a genetically different profile which means they are able to build muscle quickly and relatively easily which is a factor neither party can change or alter.
Therefore, the desire to catch up and use substances to assist when men are at a particular age where fitting in matters is a poential problem.
Young men who have not yet fully developed risk a number of factors when they start to alter their hormones.
This can lead to premature hair loss, increased acne, impotence (I’ve suffered from this after taking pro hormones) and it can even affect sperm count.
Steroid and pro hormone use can also affect the organs, organs such as the kidneys and liver especially if they take oral steroids which are processed by the liver as it puts extra strain on them because of the methylated compound.
It can also raise cholesterol levels not to mention when they finish the cycle of steroids it can prevent their body from producing their own natural source of testosterone, which again, I have experienced which can be a bit of a mind fuck.
These heightened risks can put a certain level of danger on merely wanting to fit in or look like a celebrity, in fact the risks should be highlighted by the recent death of two bodybuilders, one of which is the lauded Rich Piana.
Yet, it isn’t just the potential physical issues that adolescents may be confronted with, in many respects, a younger body is more resilient to damage and can recover much more quickly, however, the mental problems which can be developed cannot be seen and may have a more lasting negative effect.
Symptoms such as anxiety, low self-esteem, mood swings and even depression are very real risks for many men.
With surveys suggesting the rate of male body dissatisfaction is now at a peak of 43% with more men expressing that they wish they were bigger and more muscular.
This is is a growing problem in men which has affected women’s perception of their own bodies of a warped perception of how their body should look due to advertising which glamorizes muscular male or toned and thin female bodies.
Another alarming concern is that even children’s toys have been supersized with figurines looking extremely muscular or characters in video games also looking more ‘jacked’ than ever before.
Therefore, at en early age they are being fed a warped version of what a body should look like, and, again, wishing to emulate their heroes this can lead to mental illnesses when they cannot develop a similar physique.
I, myself was influenced by Arnold Schwarzenegger from the Terminator films when I was younger and have still yet to get anywhere near Arnold famous physique.
So, is there an answer?
As more and more youths become interested in working out for nothing more than aesthetic reasons the cases of body dysmorphia will rise.
However, there must be more discussion among both girls and boys at school to make people more aware of the risks and that the often lauded and desired body shapes are warped versions of the male or female physique.
Particular attention must also be focused on the risk of hormonal drugs which when taken a younger age when testosterone levels are naturally high can have a negative impact not just on their health but their legal record.