Although research suggests that a majority of those who suffer from eating disorders are female, a growing number of boys and men also experience eating disorder symptoms. However, the symptoms may take different forms among males, such as a desire for increased muscle mass and decreased body fat, or work to achieve a "ripped" physique. These symptoms may be associated with significant distress, use or abuse of a range of drugs or substances designed to control appearance, and excessive or compulsive forms of exercise. Males are also likely to experience two unique types of stigma because of their symptoms, including: (1) stigma associated with having an eating disorder, and (2) stigma related to being diagnosed with a disorder considered to be a "female" problem.
In some instances, males may take anabolic-androgenic steroids, thyroid hormones, over-the-counter stimulants, non-steroidal anabolics (e.g., human growth hormone), and a range of other legal and illegal substances (termed "Appearance-and-Performance-Enhancing Drug Use) in order to achieve certain bodily ideal. While most media accounts of this form of drug use would suggest that they are used primarily for the goal of improved performance, most survey data suggests that males and females are primarily using these drugs to affect appearance. Use of these drugs is often medically unsupervised and can potentially lead to a range of negative psychological and physiological effects. Most dangerous are the mood effects which may include anger, depression, aggressiveness, irritability, and in some cases mania or the acute and long-term effects on cardiac function related to both steroids and stimulant use.
Although little research exists on treatment of males with eating and body image based disorders, our clinic is committed to providing treatment for this growing problem. In particular, we have adopted existing treatments that work for women with eating disorders to address potential gender differences. Our clinic can offer experts in both the treatment of male body image and appearance and performance enhancing drug use.
Athletics and Performance-based Professions
Certain groups are prone to experiencing problems with eating, weight, and body image including individuals involved with athletics and other performance-based professions or hobbies. Individuals from these groups appear to be at higher risk for developing either sub-threshold or full syndrome eating disorders. In many cases, setting appropriate treatment goals for individuals who also participate in athletics or performance arts can be complicated by fears that changes in eating, shape, or weight control will negatively impact the ability to compete or perform.
For the majority of patients, our clinicians will work with identified coaches, sports medicine doctors, athletic departments, or other relevant individuals to offer a comprehensive team approach to the eating and weight related issues in efforts to return the individual to full participation in his or her identified sport/profession. In some cases, this may not be in the best interests of the client, and our treatment will also focus on the transition form athlete/performer to an identity that supports his/her long-term health and success.
Upon restoration of athletic/performer roles, individuals may also participate in performance specific counseling. This may be as simple as providing feedback on mental skills based on an evaluation or as comprehensive as treatment for performance anxiety or injury rehabilitation.
For more information or to make an appointment:
1425 Madison Ave. (corner or 98th St. and Madison Ave.)
ICAHN Building, Floor 6, Room 32
New York, NY 10029