What Is Bigorexia?

person is at a gym lifting weights and thinking about what is bigorexiaWhat is bigorexia? Bigorexia, also known as muscle dysmorphia, is a mental health condition characterized by an obsessive desire to have an extremely muscular physique. It is most commonly seen in men but can also occur in women. This condition can seriously affect an individual’s physical and emotional well-being.

At Sanford Behavioral Health, we understand conditions like bigorexia and offer specialized eating disorder treatment to help people overcome this condition. If you or a loved one is seeking support in overcoming bigorexia, we are here to help. Please reach out to us by calling 616.202.3326 to learn more about our services and treatment options available in Michigan.

What Is Bigorexia?

Bigorexia stems from a complex interplay of psychological, social, and biological factors. This condition is characterized by a distorted body image, where an individual sees themselves as being too small or not muscular enough despite having a well-developed muscle mass. People with bigorexia often have an obsessive desire to gain more muscle and may engage in extreme exercise and dieting practices to achieve their desired physique.

While the exact causes are multifaceted and can vary among individuals, certain commonalities have been observed:

Cultural and Media Influences

The prevalence of idealized male physiques in media and advertising can significantly impact one’s body image, creating unrealistic standards that men feel pressured to emulate.

Personal Insecurities

Insecurities about one’s body or appearance can lead to an excessive focus on muscularity as a way to enhance self-esteem or gain social acceptance.

Biological Factors

Genetic predispositions and hormonal imbalances may also contribute to the development of muscle dysmorphia.

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Bigorexia

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of bigorexia is crucial for early intervention, as such awareness can lead to more timely and effective treatment. Individuals with muscle dysmorphia may exhibit a range of indicators, including:

  • Preoccupation with body image – Spending several hours a day thinking about or trying to improve their muscularity.
  • Excessive exercising – Engaging in long, extreme workout sessions and feeling anxious or guilty if a workout is missed.
  • Distorted self-image – Despite being muscular, feeling that one’s body is inadequate or not muscular enough.
  • Dietary obsession – Strict adherence to a high-protein diet or overuse of supplements and, in some cases, anabolic steroids.
  • Avoidance of social situations – Shying away from events or activities due to a perceived lack of muscularity, often resulting in social isolation.
  • Impairment of daily life – Allowing the pursuit of an ideal physique to interfere with relationships, work, and other important aspects of life.

If you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself or someone you know, Sanford Behavioral Health is equipped with the expertise to offer compassionate and comprehensive care. Our eating disorder treatment programs are designed to address the cognitive distortions and behaviors associated with bigorexia.

Treatment Options for Bigorexia

Bigorexia treatment options can include a combination of individual therapy, group therapy, and medication management. Some treatment options for bigorexia may consist of the following:

Individual Therapy

One of the primary treatment options for bigorexia is individual therapy, which often involves cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps patients understand the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to their skewed self-perception and teaches them strategies to alter negative patterns. It works toward promoting a healthier self-image and more balanced lifestyle choices.

Group Therapy

Group therapy offers a supportive environment where individuals can share experiences and strategies with others facing similar challenges. The collective experience helps patients realize they are not alone, fosters empathy, and enables them to practice new social skills within a safe space.

Nutritional Counseling and Guidance

Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in the treatment of bigorexia. Nutritional counseling educates individuals on balanced diets that support their physical health without reinforcing obsessive muscularity-focused eating habits. It aims to mend the relationship with food and create sustainable, healthy eating patterns.


In some cases, medication may be prescribed to address symptoms of bigorexia, especially if they are co-occurring with other mental health conditions. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can help regulate mood and reduce the preoccupation with body image.

Family Therapy

Family therapy can be beneficial in helping the patient’s loved ones understand the complex dynamics of bigorexia. This approach improves communication, establishes support systems, and educates family members about how they can assist in the recovery process.

Recognizing that every person’s experience with bigorexia is unique, these treatment options are often tailored and may be used in tandem to provide the most comprehensive approach to recovery.

Call Sanford Behavioral Health to Begin Your Recovery with Our Eating Disorder Treatment

If “What is bigorexia?” is a question that resonates with you or someone you care about, it’s time to seek the compassionate, professional support that Sanford Behavioral Health offers. Our dedicated team understands the intricacies of eating disorders, and we’re here to guide you through every step of your journey toward recovery. To begin a new and healthy future, call us at 616.202.3326 or contact us online to ask any questions. Let’s take that first brave step together toward a balanced future.

addiction, eating disorders, mental health treatment

Sanford Behavioral Health is an addiction, eating disorder, and mental health treatment facility serving Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan, and beyond. Our mission is to promote mental health, resilience, and well-being. Our goal is to provide practical and accessible substance use disorder, eating disorder, and mental health treatment to our patients. Sanford is led by a multi-disciplinary team offering integrative residential, outpatient and telehealth programs.