Most of the world and media pay more attention to body image issues focused on women. However, men equally suffer body dissatisfaction as women. Generally the world knows less as men are considered to be quieter in bringing out the feeling of Male body Dysmorphia. Young men (between 16 to 25 years of age) suffer from this order more than other ages.
The most important issue that manifests in the brain is Bigorexia. This is an exaggerated or delusional belief about own body not being muscular enough. This brings in a feeling of having something wrong with the way one looks.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
Body dysmorphic disorder is a disorder of the mind. One is convinced that there is a defect in their appearance and that something is wrong with the way they look. While people may not see anything wrong, a person suffering from BDD exponentially magnifies the flaw in their own minds. This causes emotional distress, anxiety, and even depression.
BDD affects about 5 crore males in India. That makes it more common for Obsessive-Compulsive disorder (OCD) than any other type. Symptoms of BDD include compulsive checking mirrors or avoiding mirrors, wearing clothes and makeup to hide body position, excessive grooming, excessive exercise, etc.
Depression and Anxiety
It has been found in most cases that BDD coexists with depression and anxiety. If not controlled in time, it can become suicidal too. About 15 to 20% of patients with BDD attempt suicide. BDD many times is confused with vanity which is to look acceptable and not great or muscular.
Rising Bigorexia factor
Social media and pressure from society often dictate the way an ideal body should look. For women, the focus has been to appear thin. Males, however, should be muscular and ripped. As happiness and mental satisfaction are more getting linked to social media, Bigorexia is on a rise. This is giving rise to depression, anxiety, and lower quality of life.
How to overcome BDD
Family support – it is important for family members to understand and accept the issue rather than ridicule the person suffering.
Medical support – Do not avoid counseling and medical support.
Meditation – practice meditation for body image. Meditation improves mood, emotions, and uplifts one’s self-image. Thus meditation has proved to be most effective to fight BDD.
Discussing with friends – friends can play a very important role in fighting BDD. Discussing or promoting such discussions can help a person suffering from BDD to get back to society.
Education on social media – It is difficult to get away from social media. So one must educate children on how to get away from negativity on social media.
Engaging in a hobby – Instead of trying to feel depressed, one must try and find an interest in any hobby and practice it.
Take home message
Male Body Dysmorphia is very common and can be around us. Our family and friends might need our help and support to come out of BDD. Once it is identified and accepted, there are ways in which this OCD can be handled.