You're probably familiar with the eating disorder of anorexia in some capacity. But while those afflicted with anorexia insist that they're too "big" and stop eating, "bigorexia"—anorexia's rarely dissected inverse—is a disease in which a person believes they're not big enough. According to The Daily Mail, it's a disease that's acutely affecting weightlifters.
Oli Loyne was believed to be suffering from muscle dysmorphia (the formal name for bigorexia), and, following a stroke and two heart attacks, he succumbed to his third heart attack at the age of 20. Loyne, in pursuit of his perfect body, had been taking steroids for years while "excessively weight training," leading those around him to believe that he suffered from bigorexia. He represents just one example of the 10 percent of men in gyms who are afflicted with the condition.
"There are thousands upon thousands with it, said Rob Willson, chair of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation. "[Those] who are going to be excessively concerned about their appearance, having very poor self-esteem...feeling very anxious and very worried."
As Willson pointed out, the societal pressure for men to equate attractiveness (along with power and success) with muscle mass, has sparked a rise in the disease. "We're seeing an increased pressure on men to...create a 'V' shape and have a six pack."
But while Loyne is one of the condition's many victims, Adam Trice, an amateur bodybuilder from West Yorkshire in England, was able to fight through his issues with bigorexia—though it wasn't an easy feat.
A history of steroid use and constant gym visits make his story similar to Loyne's. "I started off at 12 stone (roughly 168 pounds), and my goal was 15," says Trice. "Then it was 17, then it was 19, and you're always striving for something else, the goalpost is constantly moving."
After losing his job, his girlfriend, and his home to his bodybuilding pursuits, the resulting depression and anxieties prompted Trice to attempt suicide. Fortunately, through therapy, he was able to work through his issues, and ultimately find solace when it came to his figure.
While Trice is a positive example, The Daily Mail notes that people with bigorexia are traditionally unwilling to seek treatment or therapy—and often succumb to depression over the inability to reach their definition of perfection.
To learn more about body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and bigorexia, head over to The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness.