Surely we’ve all heard of anorexia at some point, and we know what it is. But what about manorexia? Does this concept strike you? It is a neologism used to designate, in the broad sense, “anorexia of men”.
Manorexia is an unspecified eating disorder (ADD). Here we will see what it is exactly and what are its typical symptoms, and in addition, we will talk about its causes and the most suitable treatments.
Manorexia: what is it?
Manorexia is an eating disorder that affects men who panic about gaining weight, which causes them to exercise excessively and follow hyper restrictive diets.
In a way, it can be said to be the anorexia experienced by men, although it is not exactly the same.
Men with manorexia they still look fat (even if they are not really), as well as unfavorable. In other words, their biased perception of reality goes beyond body weight and is extrapolated to beauty or ugliness.
As for the prevalence of manorexia, according to data from the National Eating Disorders Association, the disorder could affect more than a million men and children worldwide.
However, this disorder is on the increase in recent years, which can be explained by several factors such as social pressure to always be “beautiful, perfect and slim”, excessive use of social media (And its influence on our body image and our way of life), the sick cult of the body (which also makes us forget to cultivate other facets of ourselves), etc.
Symptoms of manorexia can vary from patient to patient, although they are the most common.
1. Loss of appetite
The main symptom of manorexia is decreased appetite, which leads men who suffer from it to eat less and therefore lose weight and body fat.
This decrease in hunger may not appear, but the individual can still reduce their food consumption to worrying limits (or even virtually stop eating).
2. Intense physical exercise
Another typical symptom of manorexia is strenuous (or excessive) exercise. As with anorexia, the patient begins to exercise obsessively to lose weight (especially cardiovascular exercises such as running).
Thus, a person suffering from manorexia changes their usual functioning and he follows routines to introduce sport into his life in an exaggerated way. In severe cases, patients feel they have to constantly exercise to burn “all the fat” (although this is not real).
3. Altered body perception
There is also an altered perception of the body; thus, a man suffering from manorexia can see his body deformed, excessively fat, ugly … although this is not really the case. Another strong point is the obsession with achieving the “perfect” physique. of this disorder.
As we see, eating disorders usually almost always include a symptom that causes the patient to focus and become obsessed with their own body (including a distorted view of reality).
4. Consumption of slimming products
Another typical symptom of manorexia is the consumption of slimming products. In his haste to lose weight (and especially not to gain weight), the patient start walking around drugstores (and the internet) to buy products that allow you to do your job.
These products range from laxatives to food supplements, among others.
5. Nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting may also occur (the latter may be self-induced). It is important to note here that a differential diagnosis should be made with anorexiaA disorder that usually includes this symptom as well, as it is remembered that men can also suffer from anorexia (although they represent only 10% of all cases).
6. Weakness and fatigue
Generalized weakness and fatigue also appear, possibly due to the above symptoms.
7. Generalized discomfort
Finally, like most disorders (and especially eating disorders), the patient suffers from it, and therefore a notable symptom is generalized discomfort.
The causes of manorexia can be very diverse, and this is something the therapist and / or doctor will need to study thoroughly. Some of the most common are: low self-esteem, childhood trauma, perfectionist and / or obsessive personality, Influence of the predominant beauty model, social pressure, personal insecurities, emotional instability, etc.
These causes can be combined and end up causing manorexia. It will be important to analyze each individual case as the causes can vary greatly from person to person.
Manorexia is still a relatively unknown disorder. If we looked at the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), we would find manorexia classified as an “unspecified eating disorder (ADD)” because it is a disorder that does not meet the criteria. no other ADD.
If one looks at the guidelines for standard mental health treatments, they suggest that, in the face of unspecified ADD, the treatment to be applied will be the one that would be applied for the TCA closest to the one we are treating. Thus, in the case of manorexia, one should probably go towards treatments focused on the treatment of anorexia nervosa, such as:
- Operational techniques for managing unforeseen events (mainly used in hospital contexts).
- Systematic desensitization program of the phobic component of the disorder.
- Exposure with prevention of response.
On the other hand, cognitive-behavioral treatments are also used, which allow identify and restructure the patient’s irrational thoughts or dysfunctional ideas. These techniques mainly allow to work on the body image of the person.
It should be noted that it will be important to take a multidisciplinary approach to manorexia; therefore, the figure of the doctor and the nutritionist will be the key. It will be important for the patient to return to a healthy weight for their age, height and skin tone.
On the other hand, the psychologist will have to address the patient’s distorted thoughts related to the figure and body weight, Work with him on possible traumatic experiences from the past, review the factors that fuel the current problem, increase your self-esteem, Consult your coping strategies, etc.
In all cases, it will be essential to go to a health professional to start the most appropriate treatment for each person.
- American Psychiatric Association -APA- (2014). DSM-5. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Madrid: Panamericana.
- Pérez, M., Fernández, JR, Fernández, C. and Amic, I. (2010). Guide to effective psychological treatments I and II :. Madrid: Pyramid.
- Roda, JG (2006). Eating Disorders in Men: Four Clinical Subtypes. Catalan Society of Psychiatry, 35 (3), 352-361.
- Stoppler, MC (2008). Drunkenness, manorexia, diabulimia: new eating disorders. MedicineNet.