Symptom Characteristics and Psychiatric Comorbidity among Males with Muscle Dysmorphia

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Objective Muscle dysmorpia has been described as a disorder in which individuals are pathologically preoccupied with their muscularity. This study was designed to further investigate the symptom characteristics and psychiatric conditions associated with the disorder.

Method Weight lifting males meeting current criteria for muscle dysmorphia (n = 15), past muscle dysmorphia (n = 8), and no history of muscle dysmorphia (n = 28) responded to advertisements placed in gymnasium and nutrition stores. Structured and semistructured interviews were administered, as well as survey measures.

Results Relative to controls, males with current muscle dysmorphia experienced more aversive symptoms related to the appearance of their bodies, including more often thinking about their muscularity, dissatisfaction with appearance, appearance checking, bodybuilding dependence, and functional impairment. Higher rates of mood and anxiety disorders were found among individuals with a history of muscle dysmorphia relative to individuals with no history of muscle dysmorphia.

Conclusions The findings suggest that muscle dysmorphia can be distinguished from normal weight lifting on a number of clinical dimensions. Muscle dysmorphia appears to be comorbid with other psychiatric conditions. Limitations of the current study and directions for future research are considered.

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Comprehensive Psychiatry, v. 49, issue 4, p. 374-379