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Too buff? Experts say more men suffering from ‘Bigorexia’

KIRO Radio's Don O'Neill is buff but healthy, unlike the up to 45 percent of men unhappy with their body image. (KIRO Radio image)

We hear all the time about women taking extreme measures to look their best. But it turns out an increasing number of men obsessed with bulking up are sparking a new trend of their own.

It’s being dubbed “bigorexia.” And a researcher says up to 45 percent of guys have suffered from it. Also termed muscle dysmorphia, it’s essentially a disorder that causes men to exercise excessively and unhealthily obsess about their bodies to the point of causing themselves physical and emotional harm.

“We see psychological abnormalities, including irritability, angry outbursts, which sometimes people would call ‘roid rage.’ We see depression sometimes, mania,” Dr. Michele Kerulis, the director of sports & health psychology at the Adler School of Professional Psychology tells CBS 2 in New York.

KIRO Radio’s buffest host Don O’Neill, an elite level athlete and fitness trainer who has spent much of his life in the gym, sees plenty of people taking desperate measures to look like the guys in the muscle magazines.

“You do see this on every radio station, every television station. You see a lot of these guys going off to clinics to see these doctors and they’re rubbing stuff in weird places that I don’t think you should be rubbing stuff,” says Don.

It’s much farther than Don has ever gone, despite his muscular physique.

“I don’t take any pills, I don’t drink any powder, I just try to take care of myself and I try to eat right and now it’s just taking care of your heart and your lungs and your cardio and just trying to make sure that when you get into your 70s, 80s and 90s that you still have a quality of life.”

Along with the psychological impact, experts say the obsessive exercise can cause all sorts of injuries as well, from ruptured disks to torn muscles.

Recovery from “bigorexia” includes therapy and supervised exercise.

While researchers insist it’s a real disorder, Don questions the number of people actually afflicted. “I think it’s a real deal, but I don’t think it’s 45 percent. I think that’s ridiculous.”

Ridiculous or not, it is a growing concern, literally and figuratively.

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