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Bigorexia: What it is and how it Effects People

Updated on September 17, 2012


It seems as though people always want what they do not have. The type of body people have is no exception to this statement.

Everywhere we look, we are constantly surrounded by fit people and slim waistlines. Billboards, magazines, commercials, movies, and celebrities mold our thinking as to what an attractive body is supposed to look like. Some people are willing to do ANYTHING to get the body that they so desire, even if it means taking extreme and unhealthy measures.

Most of us have heard of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Both disorders affect mostly women. These eating disorders result from people thinking they are overweight when they are not, or when people are afraid to consume calories from certain sources (like carbs and fats for example) because they think that they will gain too much weight as a result. These affected people do not get proper nutrition, drop to an unhealthy body-weight, and become infatuated with the way they look to the point it effects their entire life.

What is Bigorexia?


So what exactly is Bigorexia? A lot of people have never heard of this type of body disillusion before. Like anorexia and bulimia, bigorexia is a misconception a person has about the appearance of their body. No matter how muscular a person gets, bigorexic people feel they are not big or muscular enough. Bigorexia is also called Muscle Dysmorphia and Reverse Anorexia Nervosa. People that have bigorexia become obsessed with the idea that they need to get bigger, even when they are above average in musculature. These people tend to think they are “too skinny” or “too small”[I]. Unlike anorexia and bulimia, this disorder affects mostly men.

Like any type of body disorder, bigorexia can leave a person feeling depressed or disgusted with oneself. Because this disillusion is usually connected to a constant comparing of unattainable goals, people that suffer from bigorexia often turn to steroids for results.

Turning to Steroids


Unlike those that dabble or try steroids, bigorexic individuals cycle multiple steroids year round. Because they do not feel big enough, as soon as they cycle off steroids and lose bloat and bulk, these bigorexic individuals feel the need to continue on steroids in order to feel good about themselves.

Steroids have numerous side effects. Among some side effects are: damage to the liver, the increase of cardiovascular disease, increased heart rate, the build-up of plague in the arteries, mood swings, anger, depression, acne, unhealthy build-up of estrogen (hormone that is prevalent in females. Becomes high in people taking steroids to counterbalance the overload of testosterone) unwanted body hair, and the shrinkage of the testicles, to name a few.

As you can tell, steroids by themselves are dangerous to one’s health. Taken year round is detrimental!

HGH and Insulin

Not only do bigorexic individuals use steroids, they are now using the injection of insulin and Human Growth Hormone (also called HGH) to fuel their muscle cells and get even bigger. For someone that already has a disillusion of themselves, the combination of HGH, insulin, and steroids can be a lethal game of a synthetic intoxication.

How they are using HGH


Human growth hormone is a prescription drug. It was originally created by scientist to treat children’s growth disorders and adults with growth hormone deficiency. When someone takes HGH, they are interjecting the active ingredient somatotroph that is naturally made in a person’s (and animals) pituitary gland. The somatotroph hormone regulates how big the cells within the body’s DNA will allow [II].

Think of a balloon. One can fill a balloon with only so much air before the balloon will “pop”. When the balloon is filled with air, the surface area begins to stretch under tension until it reaches maximum capacity. Once the intake of air stresses the surface area of the balloon to maximum capacity, the balloon will burst. At this point, the only way to get the balloon bigger (without it popping) would be to add more surface area to the balloon.

The same concept is true with a person’s muscles. Steroids allow the muscle bellies (balloon) to inflate to as large as a person’s predetermined DNA and frame will allow. With the injection of a synthetic somatotroph, this chemically changes a person’s DNA cells to grow beyond their natural regulated size the pituitary gland has set forth. This gives more surface area to the balloon and allows the body’s cells and organs to grow beyond what was genetically crafted for a person at birth.

Notice I said that somatotroph grows a person’s body cells and organs. Somatotroph unfortunately does not target solely the muscles. Whereas muscles are considered an organ, they are not the only organ that is growing in a HGH abuser’s body. Along with the muscles; the kidneys, liver, pancreas, intestines, heart, lungs, and bladder also grow in size.

HGH is the reason modern bodybuilders look fat when they loosen their core and relax their midsections.

How/Why they turn to Insulin


In case you do not already know, insulin is produced by the pancreas. It is used to regulate blood sugar levels by causing cells in the liver, muscles and fat tissue to take up glucose in the blood and turn it into glycogen. Once turned into glycogen, it is stored in the liver and muscles and then used as a body’s primary source of energy [III].

By taking injections of insulin, bigorexic individuals fuel the muscle cells with stored energy, thus “feeding” the muscles and allowing them to grow huge. What they do not realize is that taking insulin when you don't need it causes symptoms such as sweating, shaking, headache, irritability, nervousness, anxiety, weakness, dizziness, hunger, tremors, nausea, and difficulty concentrating or thinking [IV].

In long term, a person who repeatedly takes insulin without needing it subjects themselves to becoming a diabetic. This is simply a result of the body becoming accustomed to the added synthetic form of insulin, the body’s pancreas becomes inactive and stops producing its own insulin.

Bigorexia is a Mental Disease


Although people tend to think of the physical harm these disillusional complexes cause, it is important to realize that most of this disease originates from the person’s mental well-being. Just like alcoholics and drug abusers, these affected individuals do not wake up one day and say to themselves, I think I’m going to do something so drastic that the results may cost me my life.

These people have a mental illness. They are living in the moment without giving thought to the long term effects their actions are taking on their health. They do not see themselves how the rest of the world sees them. Even when they are gigantic, they still think they look small. Their illness effects not only themselves, but the people in their personal network of support.

Summary


Bigorexic’s not only become depressed and anxious about their appearance, they often turn to illegal steroids, HGH, and insulin. Their entire day is spent around working out, taking supplements, vitamins, and eating their next meal. They spend hours in the gym and more time measuring their size and flexing in the mirror.

Problems can arise at work or school when their daily schedule conflicts with their “getting HUGE” regiment. Bigorexic’s spend thousands of dollars a year on gym memberships, supplements, steroids, HGH, insulin, and vitamins.

Finally, it is important to realize that not all bigorexic plagued individuals go to such extreme measure as listed above. Some simply do not have the finances to support their illness and other are not as extreme. Like any illness, there are different levels and people are all different.

Sources:

[I] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_dysmorphia

[II] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Growth_hormone

[III] www.news-medical.net

[IV] www.livestrong.com

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    • Cliff Mendrez profile image

      Cliff Mendrez 5 years ago from Philippines

      Great hub, jaybird22. I often hear men at the gym saying things like "I need to get bigger" or something along those lines when they already look more than half the size of the average man.

    • thesingernurse profile image

      thesingernurse 5 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      Like any other mental disorders, this one is very alarming. This don't just affect the appearance of the person, it can actually pose harm to his health. I think, in order to address this concern, psychological conflicts should be addressed once and for all. Am a no psychologist but I guess this health condition can be associated to one's impaired self-esteem making the person blinded of what his true value is.

      Thank you for sharing this enlightening hub!

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      A very useful hub here! Very detailed and researched! I had never heard of BIGOREXIA! but this is very alarming... The side effects are devastating!

      Somewhere! It gets difficult for people with such disorders to move out their dilemma. What they need is proper counselling ang guidance.

      Great hub! awesome

    • JannyC profile image

      JannyC 5 years ago

      Very insightful. Great hub on a not so well known topic. Bravo for enlightening us!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      jaybird, excellent write. Bigorexic persons look ugly. There is a limit to the human body and when one plays around with stuff like steroids, HGH and insulin health complications are bound to occur sooner than later.

      These guys need psychological help and soon.

      Voted up, awesome and useful.

    • profile image

      johnnymnemonic 5 years ago

      Wait a second, is that picture for real? If I was Christopher Nolan, I'd definitely cast him to play Bane instead of Tom Hardy. At least as a stunt double for the action sequences after the Venom boost. You'll put his mask on and nobody'll care. Really, with such resemblance, acting is not that important. He is actually a living Bane! :)

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      That's a great comparison Johnny! He body is a bane on himself!

    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 5 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      Gross. Never heard of the disorder, but it's just plain gross. I guess you could say this the opposite of anorexia.

    • jaybird22 profile image
      Author

      jaybird22 5 years ago from New York

      thesingernurse - Thanks for you insight. You are definitely right when saying that these people need their mind checked out by a psychologist. It has everything to do with the way in which these people perceive themselves and their impaired self-esteem.

    • jaybird22 profile image
      Author

      jaybird22 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks for reading Cliff Mendrez! After working in gyms for over ten years, I hear this all the time as well. This is partially the reason I decided to post a hub on this subject.

    • jaybird22 profile image
      Author

      jaybird22 5 years ago from New York

      rahul0324 - Thanks for reading and your insight. You are right when you say that these people need proper counseling and guidance.

    • jaybird22 profile image
      Author

      jaybird22 5 years ago from New York

      Hi Rajan Jolly! Thanks for reading. I totally agree that a Bigorexic person looks ugly. Can you imagine what they must look like under heavy clothing? They probably would look fat instead of fit because their weight is not even closely proportionate to their height.

    • jaybird22 profile image
      Author

      jaybird22 5 years ago from New York

      Haha yes this picture is for real ;-) I'm with you, I think he would make a better Bane.

    • jaybird22 profile image
      Author

      jaybird22 5 years ago from New York

      Exactly! This is definitely the opposite of anorexia which is why it is often referred to as Reverse Anorexia Nervosa.

    • hyunchang profile image

      hyunchang 5 years ago

      Great information presented in a readable writing! :)

    • profile image

      cottageindustry 5 years ago

      Is it true the condition is triggered with steroids use? Thanks for a great hub as this is the first time I am hearing about the condition.

    • jaybird22 profile image
      Author

      jaybird22 5 years ago from New York

      Cottageindustry: This is a true disease but not necessarily triggered by steroid use. As stated above, this is a mental disease and should be treated as such. Usually, this condition starts as a misconception of how someone precieves themselves.

      Steroids contributes to the problem because it gives Bigorexic individuals the fast results they are looking for. Although not physically addictive, people that have bigorexic personalities become psychologically dependant on steroids.

    • profile image

      Sean 4 years ago

      So I am a burn victim and I lost 35% of my muscle in the hospital. I am an Ex Roofer and I am looking into steroids to get back into shape, Does this mean that I also have this disease? Instead of commenting on how gross these people look or how big of problems they must have... Fix yourselves first! You people make me sick that are willing to bad mouth people that have personal isuues, Im sure you laugh at mentally handicapped as well ***holes! You have no idea WHY these people want to be this way... So don't judge.

    • jaybird22 profile image
      Author

      jaybird22 4 years ago from New York

      Sean: Sorry to hear about your accident! I NEVER ONCE mentioned anything about people with this disease being gross nor did I state anything about the problems they have or judge them. Perhaps you need to read it again because I'm not so sure you get what I am putting out. My intention of this hub was to simply inform the public of a not so known disease and shed light on it. Maybe your dyslexic, can't read and are judging the author by the pictures. Maybe I should make a picture book for morons like you to get my message.

      Using steroids to overcome an accident is completely different and would not classify as someone with this disease but if you read the hub, you would know that.

      Fix myself first? Excuse me? You do not even know me! How do you know that I do not take steroids myself? And it seems as though you are either bi-polar or going through a roid rage because so far everyone I've met on Hubpages has been really friendly and helpful on here with the exception of you.

      Apparently you are anonymous for a reason. You probably can't write and are still trying to find a way to get you whoo hoo up for the ladies because the only muscle you flex is your stupidity. In the mean time, go pound salt and find someone else's hub to curse on loser!

    • FitnessProDee profile image

      Dana Gore 4 years ago

      It's amazing to see how our perceptions about ourselves create such destructive results. I have personally come to the conclusion that if inner-peace were to be the focus...the external results follow.

      Very well-written!

    • jaybird22 profile image
      Author

      jaybird22 4 years ago from New York

      FitnessProDee: I totally agree with you on our own perceptions. Thanks for the read and the feedback ;-)

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