New Study Supports Link between Depression and Muscle Dysmorphia in Men

Muscle dysmorphia (MD) is characterized by a hyper-vigilance for muscle mass, patterns of extreme weight lifting, dieting, and even the use of steroids or other drugs to suppress appetite and enhance muscularity. Some existing research has linked MD to psychological problems that result in negative affect, including obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety. Feelings of low self-worth, hostility, and even guilt can increase negative affect, which could in turn increase motivation for change. When someone does not like their own body image, the negative feelings associated with that could be the impetus for behaviors that might ultimately lead to MD. Another psychological issue that has also been suggested to be associated with MD is depression. The link between eating and food problems and depression has been well established, and therefore, it is not unrealistic to theorize that depression could be a pathway for MD.

To test this theory, Dr. Frederick Grieve of the Department of Psychology at Western Kentucky University recently conducted a study involving 100 male college students. The students were assessed for depressive symptoms and were asked to report how often they lifted weights. Grieve found that the students that exhibited symptoms of MD were more likely to have symptoms of depression than those without MD. Grieve does not find this surprising, as MD can manifest in ways that are similar to depression. People with MD tend to put exercising before social activities, which can lead to isolation. Additionally, the negative self-image they may have and high levels of body dissatisfaction can increase negative affect, which is also common in depression.

Overall, this study clearly provides evidence that depression and MD share certain characteristics, and may have predictive qualities. He believes that individuals, and especially males, at risk for depression may be particularly vulnerable to MD. His study did not examine this relationship in women. Because of the high rates of eating issues in college aged women, future work should look at depression, MD, and eating problems in young women to determine if there is a similar link. “For now, the results of the present study indicate that there is a moderate relationship between symptoms of depression and symptoms of muscle dysmorphia,” said Grieve.

Reference:
Grieve, Frederick G., and Michael D. Shacklette. Brief report on men’s bodies and mood: Correlates between depressive symptoms and muscle dysmorphia symptoms. North American Journal of Psychology 14.3 (2012): 563-67. Print.

© Copyright 2013 by www.GoodTherapy.org - All Rights Reserved.

The preceding article summarizes research or news from periodicals or related source material in the fields of mental health and psychology. GoodTherapy.org did not participate in or condone any studies, or conclusions thereof, that may have been cited. Any views or opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org.

  • 1 comment
  • Leave a Comment
  • Marqiuis

    January 14th, 2013 at 4:00 AM

    This just goes to show that this kind of body image issue is not just something that women have to deal with.
    This is something that men too, really smart and intelligent men of all ages, are having to go through as well.
    This idea that women struggle all the time with the way they look and the images that society sets them up for, yeah it’s a problem.
    But let’s not ignore the fact that there are many men who struggle with this as well, men who try not to let this dysmorphic idealogy haunt them but clearly it does and we have to think about this as we try to teach both our yung daughters as well as sons about body confidence abd self esteem.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of GoodTherapy.org's Terms and Conditions of Use.

2 Z k A

 

* Indicates required field.

Advanced Search

Search Our Blog

Title   Content   Author

Recent Comments

  • Kimmy: Shel, I remember when you told us the story about the doctor winging your son off of his Meds. I remember saying my son needs his Meds...
  • Lynn: Me too, Cee Cee. Take care, Lynn
  • Eliza: Do you mean the article “7 ways anxiety works to your advantage”? My understanding of that article was not that anxiety was...
  • Kimmy: Hello Diane, My 27 years old son has stop taking his medication too. It’s going on 3 weeks since he last taken his Meds. It seems like...
  • Shel: Hi Diane , could you not get the doctor involved , my son wouldn’t stay on meds .. But he went to the gym every day and has things...
GoodTherapy.org is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on GoodTherapy.org.