POSTED ON JANUARY 10, 2007:
Perceived "problems" with body image can affect men as well
When thinking about body image disorders, most thoughts tend to lean toward pictures of women obsessing about their weight or young girls starving themselves or binging in secrecy.
Rarely do many consider the effects body images have on the male population. Although males certainly can suffer from the same diseases and actions women can when it comes to body images many more males are victims of a disease not widely known about.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) can have the same lasting effects as eating and mental health disorders but are more often times harder to detect in the beginning.
BDD, according to research from the Mayo Clinic, is characterized by an excessive preoccupation with a real or imagined defect in a person's physical appearance.
Those who become victims of BDD become obsessed with what they perceive as a defect which may not even be noticeable at all to those around them.
Victims of this disease tend to spend time attempting to fix their "problem" or trying to convince others what they see in their exaggerated view is actually a big problem when in reality it may be nothing at all.
An example of how this disease occurs in young men can be found in almost every school locker room around the country. When males compare themselves with others they tend to view themselves as not measuring up. They want to "bulk up" to become what they consider a normal masculine framework.
When they find what they see in the mirror as not being exactly what they view as right the condition can become obsessive causing victims to retreat into isolation, refusing to accept themselves as normal, becoming overcome with feelings of anxiousness to the point they are labeled as a social phobic and constantly seeking reassurance about what they see as their defect.
For younger men the obsession with having small muscles can control their everyday lives the same as eating disorders can control a woman's daily routine. BDD is a form of somatoform disorder which are often characterized as physical symptoms which underlie a medical condition such as a chemical imbalance or a more prevalent disorder like OCD or other psychological or cultural factors- such as locker room talk.
Dr. Scott Moseman, of Laureate Psychiatric Clinic in Tulsa, says he treats far less males in his practice than women, mainly because the statistics generally point out that men suffer from only one-tenth the amount of the same types of mental health disorders, including BDD, which accounts for one percent of the total male population. One percent may not sound like a lot, but consider that is of the total population in the entire country.
"Many males want to be built better, the point can become obsessive and can lead to higher levels of things like plastic surgery and other psychological disorders," Moseman said.
Treatment for this disorder can be very complex with multiple dimensions of behavioral, psychological and physical evaluation. For the minority of males who suffer from chronic symptoms of BDD the desire to be framed a certain way can cause severe interruptions in their daily living.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder can be just as overtaking and controlling as other serious illnesses, all rooted in feelings concerning body images and cultural acceptance.
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