Muscle dysmorphia

an overview of clinical features and treatment options

Mitchell L. Cunningham*, Scott Griffiths, Deborah Mitchison, Jonathan M. Mond, David Castle, Stuart B. Murray

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


An increasing public and empirical focus on male body image indicates that muscularity is a preeminent concern among boys and men. For some, these concerns develop into a complex and disabling psychiatric disorder termed muscle dysmorphia (MD), the hallmark of which is an intense preoccupation regarding one's (subjectively) insufficient muscularity. Treatment of MD is critical; however, evidence to inform treatment approaches is sorely lacking. The purpose of this article is twofold. First, we provide an overview of the clinical features of MD, drawing particular attention to the preoccupation, functional impairment and psychiatric comorbidity associated with the disorder. Second, we discuss and recommend potential treatment directions for MD, including techniques that have demonstrated efficacy in the treatment of related disorders, namely, body dysmorphic disorder and eating disorders (and anorexia nervosa in particular). Psychotherapeutic techniques, including cognitive restructuring of deleterious perfectionistic and egosyntonic beliefs, and dialectical behavioral techniques to improve the repertoire of emotion regulation skills available to afflicted individuals, are discussed, in addition to psychopharmacological approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-271
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Cognitive Psychotherapy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • body dysmorphic disorder
  • male body image
  • muscle dysmorphia
  • muscle dysmorphic disorder
  • treatment

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