Anorexia in men – causes, symptoms and treatment

This article discusses anorexia in men. We talk about the causes of this condition, symptoms and treatment of the disease. You will learn about the danger of anorexia nervosa, possible complications.

What is anorexia

Anorexia in men is a serious disease that poses a threat to human life. It is characterized by a manic desire to lose weight, deliberate refusal of food and an inadequate assessment of one’s own appearance. Most often, anorexia is diagnosed in women, less often men and children suffer from it . 

This condition leads to a significant loss of body weight and, as a result, a deterioration in well-being. The main difficulty of such a disease is the misunderstanding by the patient himself of what consequences his fasting can lead to, as well as the anorectics’ unwillingness to be treated.

What is the difference between male and female anorexia

Probably many of you have repeatedly observed how often women spin around the mirror, change outfits with the only desire – to look slimmer. At the same time, many of you have noticed how plump guys and men, absolutely not embarrassed by their appearance, met and even married beautiful women. Paradoxical, isn’t it? Some people don’t need to worry about their appearance in order to be happy and enjoy life.

According to a study by the Lady.Mile.Ru project, whose respondents were almost 50 thousand people, most of whom are women, in 2017 every second Russian was dissatisfied with their appearance. The survey data showed that the opinion of others affects the self-esteem of citizens: 60 percent of those surveyed need constant compliments, and only 40% of respondents are convinced of their irresistibility. A desire to become slimmer was expressed by ¾ of the respondents, while ⅔ of the respondents did not like their own body, and 17% of the respondents were dissatisfied with only a separate part of the body. 

Despite these indicators and a strong, sometimes absurd, desire in women to become slimmer, in some cases anorexia also appears in the stronger sex. The difference between male and female anorexia is as follows:  

  1. Differences in the causes of the disease – in women, pathology can manifest itself in response to a certain stimulus, for example, parting with a lover or an attempt to increase self-esteem by improving appearance. In men, the disease accompanies the already existing pathology.
  2. Leakage – in the fairer sex, the disease is visually expressed, it is immediately obvious from it that she is a model or anorexic. For guys, weight loss is slower and a little different. It is possible to find out that a man is sick with anorexia only at an advanced stage.
  3. Seeking help – a woman’s rapid weight loss is noticeable to her relatives immediately, therefore, they also seek help more often. Men are ashamed of their condition, as a result of which they miss the opportunity of surgical treatment. As a result, they come to doctors with an already advanced process, in which therapy is much more complicated.

Summing up, it should be noted that in the development of anorexia, as a rule, women themselves are to blame, as they strive for an invented ideal appearance. In men, the disease develops due to health problems, while deliberate refusal to eat in guys is much less common.

The reasons

There are several factors in the development of anorexia in men:

  • ridicule in childhood due to excess or overweight;
  • working conditions;
  • predisposition to mental illness at the genetic level;
  • excessive physical activity;
  • admiration for thinness in society.

Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

Psychological factor

Caused by the following reasons:

  • Fear from childhood – if a man in childhood heard a lot of ridicule about weight, then in adulthood this leads to a deliberate and complete refusal to eat. This condition is due to psychological trauma and fear of new bullying.
  • Depression – refusal to eat is due to severe depression. Remember yourself, when you are nervous or in a lack of mood, then most often you not only do not want to eat, but also do not move. In the case of depression, the body is not able to take food, there is an aversion to it. A complication of this disorder is rapid weight loss.

Youth protest

The most common factor in the development of an eating disorder in adolescents is protest against something: strong parenting, their figure, established frameworks in the company of friends. At the age of 10-15, boys compare themselves to celebrities, watch various videos, and then begin to express dissatisfaction with adults, feel hatred of their bodies.

Teenagers do not understand that refusal to eat, like deliberately induced vomiting, can lead to irreparable consequences in the future. Usually these complications affect the psyche.

Physical activity

Often, at a psychiatrist or psychotherapist’s appointment, you can meet a person who is actively involved in sports and complains of nutritional problems. It would seem that there could be a connection between an active lifestyle and an eating disorder. Quite large, actually.

People with active lifestyles and frequent exercise in the gym often eat so many foods that do not cover their energy costs. Because of this, thinness occurs with short or tall stature, in some cases leading to anorexia. In addition, excessive physical exertion and workaholism are the first step towards a mental disorder.

Labor activity

Some types of work can cause nervous exhaustion and, as a result, lead to refusal of food or a significant decrease in its portions. The man’s psyche tries to protect himself from problems at work with the help of external and internal changes: the patient loses the desire to communicate with anyone, symptoms of a manic state appear. This is how anorexia nervosa manifests itself . 


Look at the celebrities, few of them have problems with being overweight. If we add to this that photo and video cameras, on average, visually add from 4 to 10 kg of body weight, then imagine what the real weight of famous men is.

To look slimmer, many celebrities are dieting or deliberately starving. This leads to changes in the psyche, deterioration of health.

A manic desire to lose weight sometimes leads to the fact that the weight is reduced to critical levels. If we add to this the inadequate conviction of the patient that even with such a body weight, his physical disabilities are visible due to excess weight, then this can mean only one thing – it’s time to visit a psychiatrist.

Vegetarianism and diets

Many people mistakenly believe that plant foods can fully cover a person’s daily need for all nutrients. Traditional medicine has its own opinion on this matter – vegetarianism, like excessive obsession with diets, in some cases is quite dangerous.

With vegetarianism, the likelihood of anorexia formation increases as a result of a lack of fat reserves. In the case of diets, eating disorders or changes in the functioning of the body can occur, leading to significant loss of body weight.


Experts identify the following forms of pathology:

  • Symptomatic – occurs against the background of serious somatic ailments.
  • Mental – refusal to eat is due to schizophrenia, paranoia, depression , the use of alcoholic beverages, the use of narcotic and psychotic drugs.
  • Medicinal – after taking some antidepressants or psychostimulants, anorexia may develop.
  • Nervous – a deliberate refusal to eat and a violation of an adequate assessment of one’s own appearance.


Symptoms of the disease do not appear immediately in men. Usually the patient himself is not aware of the presence of an ailment, considering such a condition to be normal. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the following behavioral symptoms in an eating disorder:

  • inadequate assessment of their appearance, weight, images in photos and videos;
  • idealizing thinness with the subsequent search for flaws in oneself;
  • irritability;
  • privacy;
  • aggressive behavior;
  • the appearance of fear of eating;
  • systematic adherence to various diets, mostly rigid ; 
  • decreased libido;
  • regular excessive physical activity;
  • eating only alone.

Physiological signs of the disease:

  • arterial hypotension;
  • painful appearance;
  • active hair loss;
  • rejection of any food by the body;
  • fast fatiguability;
  • dizziness;
  • pale skin;
  • loss of consciousness caused by low hemoglobin;
  • chronic overwork;
  • deterioration of the condition of the gums and teeth.

The development of the disease occurs in stages. At the initial stage, there are changes in the patient’s behavior. At the next stages, a person loses interest in food, body weight gradually decreases, and health problems appear.


Most of the anorectics do not seek help because they do not see a problem in their condition. Relatives of the patient begin to sound the alarm when the symptoms of the disease become noticeable.

Experts diagnose anorexia for the following reasons:

  • lack of appetite as a result of changes in the perception of food;
  • loss of body weight by 25 percent compared with usual rates;
  • manic desire to lose weight as much as possible;
  • an abnormal assessment of your condition;
  • anemia;
  • deterioration of hair condition;
  • vomiting after eating.

After identifying these signs in a patient, specialists prescribe treatment in order to prevent his death.

How to treat anorexia in men

Why is anorexia dangerous? It completely changes a person’s consciousness, which sometimes leads to schizophrenia that cannot be cured. Also, if therapy is ignored, the risk of death associated with irreversible changes in the body increases.

Drug treatment

To maintain the patient’s life, the use of certain drugs is required, including vitamin complexes and tranquilizers. Specialists are developing a special diet therapy aimed at increasing the patient’s weight. It is permissible to use traditional medicine, but only after under the supervision of a doctor. 

Drug therapy helps restore most of the physiological processes that have changed due to an eating disorder. Sometimes it is not possible to fully recover.


This technique allows the patient to introduce the correct values, helps to solve the problems that resulted in the disease. The treatment uses the methods of cognitive-behavioral therapy, which promotes the awareness of false thoughts and replace them with meaningful beliefs. Such treatment teaches anorectics to solve their problems without assistance.

Family therapy

The patient himself and his relatives participate in the treatment. Specialists tell the patient’s family how to behave correctly and support him. Family support is an important part of treatment.


With timely and correct therapy, there are favorable prognosis for cure. But even in the case of complete recovery, complications can haunt a person throughout his life. These include:

  • dystrophy;
  • relapse of the disease;
  • slow metabolism;
  • impotence;
  • infertility;
  • alopecia;
  • osteoporosis;
  • overeating , leading to obesity ; 
  • disturbances in the digestive tract;
  • arrhythmia;
  • decrease in brain mass;
  • schizophrenia;
  • death.

That is why it is important at the first signs of anorexia to immediately seek help from specialists, and not wait for the pathology to go away on its own. Remember this!

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