Understanding “Manorexia” and Its Impact

Stefan Spassov

While eating disorders are often more associated with females and those identifying as female, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) found that 33% of males use unhealthy behaviors to control their weight. 

25% of individuals with anorexia nervosa are male, and they are at an even higher risk of dying than females, partly because they can sometimes be diagnosed later. This is because many people assume that males don’t have eating disorders which is a dangerous assumption.

This is an underrepresented population that regularly uses extreme exercise and unhealthy diet changes to lower their body fat ratio to appear more muscular. However, these behaviors can intensify, leading to more serious consequences. This is what is known as “manorexia”, or more plainly, anorexia in males.

What is Manorexia?

Manorexia is a term that is sometimes used to describe anorexia in men. This is because the symptoms of anorexia can be different in men and women. For example, men are more likely to focus on muscle mass and becoming lean rather than being thin. Those symptoms, however, are not exclusive to men and can occur in women as well. 

Manorexia, or just anorexia in males, is a form of an eating disorder that is characterized by an obsessive focus on appearing more muscular and a distorted body image. Men suffering from anorexia frequently see themselves as overweight, even when they are not. They may become fixated on calorie counting and exercise to the point where it interferes with their daily life. In severe cases, anorexia can lead to malnutrition, organ damage, and even death.

There is no one cause of anorexia. Rather, it is thought to result from a combination of psychological, biological, and sociocultural factors. For some, anorexia may be a way to cope with trauma or stress. Whatever the cause, anorexia is a serious condition that requires treatment, no matter the gender.

Another Downside to Societal Expectations of Strength

The mental health of men is less overlooked than it was in the past. However, those with anorexia still may find it difficult to seek help. Some men feel they should be strong and in control, which can be at odds with admitting that they have a problem. However, treatment is vital for those with anorexia.

Therapy can help address the underlying causes of the disorder and help the person develop healthy coping mechanisms. In some cases, medication may also be necessary.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please reach out for help. Give us a call today to begin your recovery process.

Manorexia Symptoms (Symptoms of Anorexia in Men)

 Men with Manorexia may experience symptoms similar to what women feel when they suffer from anorexia. Here are some of the manorexia symptoms:

  • A preoccupation with food and weight that leads to a drastic reduction in calorie intake
  • Intense fear of weight gain or becoming fat
  • A distorted body image that leads to a perception of being overweight, even when they are not
  • Extreme exercise habits in an attempt to lose weight
  • Extreme exercise in an attempt to gain muscle and lose all body fat
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Insomnia that is caused by hunger
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Anxiety and depression

How Dangerous is Manorexia? 

There is no definitive answer to this question as the severity of this disorder varies from person to person. However, in general, all eating disorders can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening if left untreated. Therefore, it is important to seek professional help if you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder. 

When men suffer from anorexia, they may experience physiological and physical changes in their body which may develop into serious health conditions such as electrolyte imbalances due to dehydration, heart problems, and kidney failure. Additionally, because men are typically larger and have more muscle mass than women, they may require more calories to maintain their weight. As a result, men with anorexia may be at a greater risk for malnutrition and death.

Though anorexia is less common in men than in women, it is still a serious and potentially life-threatening disorder. 

Who is at Risk for Manorexia?

Anorexia and other eating disorders can affect anyone, but typically it’s seen in individuals with high-stress levels, a family history of eating disorders, those who compete in sports that emphasize weight and appearance, and those who have perfectionist tendencies.

A study from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University found that 10% of male college athletes were at risk for anorexia nervosa. This is likely because these athletes are under a lot of pressure to perform and maintain a certain weight and appearance.

How To Help Yourself or a Loved One

Manorexia can be a fatal condition, so if you think you or a loved one may have manorexia, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. Eating disorders in men are often overlooked, which in turn leads to a higher death rate from the condition.

Change doesn’t have to be difficult, and with the proper help and support, manorexia can be treated. For more information on manorexia treatment in Texas, contact us today to begin your recovery process.