This disorder can be understood as a typically male version of anorexia.
Surely we have all heard of anorexia at some time, and we know what it is. But what about manorexia? Does this concept sound familiar to you? It is a neologism used to designate, broadly, “men’s anorexia.”
Manorexia is an unspecified eating disorder (ED). Here we will see what exactly it consists of and what its typical symptoms are, and we will also talk about its causes and the most appropriate treatments.
Manorexia – what is it?
Manorexia is an eating disorder suffered by those men with a panic to gain weight, which leads them to exaggerate sports and follow hyper restrictive diets.
In a certain way, we can say that it is about anorexia suffered by men, although it is not exactly the same.
Men with manorexia always look fat (even if they are not really fat), as well as underprivileged. That is, their biased perception of reality goes beyond body weight, and is extrapolated to beauty or ugliness.
Regarding the prevalence of manorexia, according to data from the National Association for Eating Disorders, this disorder could affect more than one million men and boys worldwide.
However, this disorder is increasing more and more in recent years, which is explained by various factors such as social pressure to always be “handsome, perfect and thin”, excessive use of social networks (and its influence on our body image and our lifestyle), the sick cult of the body (which also makes us forget to cultivate other facets of ourselves), etc.
The symptoms of manorexia can vary from one patient to another, although the most frequent are.
1. Loss of appetite
The main symptom of manorexia is a decrease in appetite, which leads men who suffer from it to eat less and therefore lose weight and body fat.
It may be that this decrease in hunger does not appear, but still, the individual reduces their food consumption to worrying limits (or even practically stops eating).
2. Intense physical exercise
Another typical symptom of manorexia is intense (or excessive) physical exercise. As in anorexia, the patient begins to obsessively practice sports to lose weight (especially cardiovascular exercise such as running).
Thus, a person with manorexia changes their normal functioning and follows routines to introduce sport into their life in an exaggerated way. In severe cases, patients feel that they must do sports constantly to burn off “all the fat” (although this is not real).
3. Altered perception of the body
There is also an altered perception of the body; thus, a man with manorexia can see his body deformed, excessively fat, ugly … Although this is not really the case. The obsession with getting the “perfect” physique is also another prominent feature of this disorder.
As we can see, generally eating disorders almost always include a symptom that makes the patient focus and obsess over his 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 desire to lose weight (and above all, not to gain weight), the patient begins to wander through pharmacies (and online) to purchase products that allow him to achieve his mission.
These products range from laxatives to dietary supplements, among many others.
5. Nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting may also appear (the latter may be self-induced). It is important to note here that a differential diagnosis should be made with anorexia, a disorder that also usually includes this symptom, since we remember 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, probably as a consequence of the above symptoms.
7. General malaise
Finally, like most disorders (and especially eating disorders), the patient suffers, and therefore a notable symptom is general malaise.
The causes of manorexia can be very diverse, and it is something that the therapist and / or the doctor should investigate in depth. Some of the most frequent are: low self-esteem, childhood trauma, perfectionist and / or obsessive personality, influence of the predominant beauty pattern, social pressure, personal insecurities, emotional instability, etc.
These causes can combine and end up causing manorexia. It will be important to analyze each specific case because the causes can vary greatly from one person to another.
Manorexia is a still fairly unknown disorder. If we consult the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), we would find manorexia classified as an “Unspecified Eating Disorder (ED), since it is a disorder that does not meet the criteria for any other ED .
If we consult the reference treatment guidelines in mental health, they suggest that, in the face of unspecified EDs, the treatment to be applied will be the one that would be applied for the ED more similar to the one we are treating. So, in the case of manorexia, we should surely go to treatments focused on treating anorexia nervosa, such as:
- Operative contingency management techniques (used especially in hospital contexts).
- Systematic Desensitization Program for the phobic component of the disorder.
- Exposure with response prevention.
On the other hand, cognitive behavioral treatments are also used, which allow the identification and restructuring of irrational thoughts or dysfunctional ideas of the patient. These techniques allow, above all, to work on the person’s body image.
It should be noted that it will be important to carry out a multidisciplinary approach to manorexia ; For this, the figure of the doctor and the nutritionist will be key. It will be important for the patient to return to healthy weight levels for their age, height, and complexion.
On the other hand, the psychologist must address the distorted thoughts of the patient associated with the silhouette and body weight, work with him on possible traumatic experiences from the past, review the factors that are maintaining the current problem, enhance his self-esteem, review his coping strategies , etc.
In any case, 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 Amigo, I. (2010). Guide to effective psychological treatments I and II :. Madrid: Pyramid.
- Rueda, JG (2006). Eating disorders in men: four clinical subtypes. Colombian Journal of Psychiatry, 35 (3), 352-361.
- Stoppler, MC (2008). Drunkorexia, manorexia, diabulimia: New eating disorders. MedicineNet.