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Body Image Issues For Men

Did you know that men, like women, can struggle with body image issues? Some men secretly live with an eating disorder or body dysmorphic disorder. Some men use steroids to try to “beef up” muscles and enhance appearance. Body image issues can harm your health and interfere with daily living. People with body image disorders often isolate themselves from others and can suffer from depression and other mental health problems.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders involve extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. Many more women than men have anorexia and bulimia. But binge eating disorder affects men and women equally. With binge eating disorder, people overeat well beyond the point of feeling full. Sometimes, people try to make up for their binges by dieting or not eating. Body weight ranges from normal to severely obese.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

People with body dysmorphic disorder have extreme concern over a real or imagined "flaw" in appearance. Men and women are affected equally, but focus concern on different parts of the body. Men tend to be preoccupied by their skin, hair, nose, and genitals. People with this condition often feel "ugly" and can be self-conscious around others.

Obsession with food or how you look is no way to live. If you have body image issues, don't let shame or embarrassment keep you from seeking help. Medicines and counseling can help people with eating disorders and body image disorders.

Steroid Use to Look Good

Anabolic steroid use by athletes is often in the news. But surveys show that the typical steroid user is not a competitive athlete, nor a teen. Rather, steroid users tend to be men in their mid 20s to mid 30s who want to build muscle mass to enhance how they look. Using steroids for non medical reasons is illegal and can harm your physical and mental health. Also, injecting steroids raises the risk of getting HIV and hepatitis.

Anorexia Nervosa in Males

Anorexia nervosa is a severe, life-threatening disorder in which the individual refuses to maintain a minimally normal body weight, is intensely afraid of gaining weight, and exhibits a significant distortion in the perception of the shape or size of his body, as well as dissatisfaction with his body shape and size.

Behavioral Characteristics of Anorexia Nervosa in Males:

* Excessive dieting, fasting, restricted diet
* Food rituals
* Preoccupation with body building, weight lifting, or muscle toning
* Compulsive exercise
* Difficulty eating with others, lying about eating
* Frequently weighing self
* Preoccupation with food
* Focus on certain body parts; e.g., buttocks, thighs, stomach
* Disgust with body size or shape
* Distortion of body size; i.e., feels fat even though others tell him he is already very thin

Emotional and Mental Characteristics of Anorexia Nervosa in Males:

* Intense fear of becoming fat or gaining weight
* Depression
* Social isolation
* Strong need to be in control
* Rigid, inflexible thinking, “all or nothing”
* Decreased interest in sex or fears around sex
* Possible conflict over gender identity or sexual orientation
* Low sense of self worth -- uses weight as a measure of worth
* Difficulty expressing feelings
* Perfectionistic -- strives to be the neatest, thinnest, smartest, etc.
* Difficulty thinking clearly or concentrating
* Irritability, denial -- believes others are overreacting to his low weight or caloric restriction
* Insomnia

Physical Characteristics of Anorexia Nervosa in Males:

* Low body weight (15% or more below what's expected for age, height, activity level)
* Lack of energy, fatigue
* Muscular weakness
* Decreased balance, unsteady gait
* Lowered body temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate
* Tingling in hands and feet
* Thinning hair or hair loss
* Lanugo (downy growth of body hair)
* Heart arrhythmia
* Lowered testosterone levels

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