Adolescents and young adults who experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) before the age of 18 were significantly more likely to experience symptoms of muscle dysmorphia.
This is according to a study – “Adverse Childhood Experiences and Muscle Dysmorphia Symptomatology: Findings from a Sample of Canadian Adolescents and Young Adults” by Kyle T. Ganson, Nelson Pang, Alexander Testa, Dylan B. Jackson and Jason M. Nagata – that appeared in Clinical Social Work Journal.
Previous research showed that more than half of children and adolescents experience at least one adverse childhood experience in their lifetime. These adverse experiences in childhood can lead to harmful health effects, so there is a need to highlight the need for greater awareness of how adverse experiences in childhood (such as domestic violence, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse) and muscle dysmorphia (the pathological pursuit of muscularity) are linked.
The researchers analyzed data from over 900 adolescents and young adults who participated in the Canadian Study of Adolescent Health Behaviors. In total, 16% of participants who experienced five or more adverse childhood experiences were at clinical risk for muscle dysmorphia, underscoring the significant traumatic effects that such experiences can have on mental health and well-being.
“Importantly, our study found that gender was an important factor in the relationship between adverse childhood experiences and muscle dysmorphia symptoms,” said Ganson. “Boys and young men in the study who have experienced five or more adverse childhood experiences had significantly greater muscle dysmorphia symptoms when compared to girls and young women.”
“It is important for health care professionals to assess for symptoms of muscle dysmorphia, including muscle dissatisfaction and functional impairment related to exercise routines and body image, among young people who have experienced adverse childhood experiences, particularly boys and young men,” concluded Ganson.