Can Fitness Addiction Become a Real Mental Disorder?

When you hear the word addiction, your mind will probably automatically think about substance abuse like alcohol and drugs. However, addiction is much more encompassing behavior; you might be surprised to learn that there is a huge number of known addictions that most people don’t even know exist. Take fitness, for example. It is common knowledge that pursuing fitness is a good thing, as it is a great way to maintain your health and protect yourself from a myriad of diseases.

But did you know that there is such a thing as “fitness addiction?” Just as the saying goes, too much of a good thing is bad; the same applies to fitness. People who are addicted to fitness suffer from an unhealthy obsession with staying “fit,” which makes them more susceptible to eating disorders, depression, and in extreme cases, they can even develop suicidal tendencies. If you have worries that a loved one might be a fitness addict, read below to gather more information about whether fitness addiction can become a real mental disorder.

What Causes Fitness Addiction?

Perhaps the best place to start is to identify the triggers of the fitness addiction phenomenon. While encouraging people to stay in shape is a noble act, some fitness enthusiasts go too far by dedicating their social media platforms to convince their audience that getting fit is the ultimate goal in life. 

Being haunted by images of perfect-looking models with lean and toned bodies have certainly added to the insecurities of the impressionable youth, that they had no choice but to obsess over wanting to look the same. So while there is no one answer to the reason behind fitness addiction, it can be summarized as a mix of poor self-image, lack of confidence, and misrepresentation in the media.

What Can you Do About Fitness Addiction?

The term “fitness addict” is often thrown around lightly to describe someone who is passionate about working out and eating healthily. However, fitness addiction is real and, unfortunately, is usually hard to identify. If you are worried about a loved one, it is extremely important to know how to get someone into rehab when they don’t want to admit that they have a problem. According to a specialized Ohio-based rehabilitation center, you should try to be as calm and objective as possible before you can even attempt to express your concerns about your loved one’s well being. The time and place of the conversation can make a world of difference in how a fitness addict reacts to your words, so make sure you give it enough thought beforehand. 

Development of Fitness Addiction

There is a thin line between the passion in the gym and full-on addictive behavior that needs intervention. Fitness addiction does not happen overnight, but there are some signs that you should look out for if you are concerned about a friend. One of the first signs of addictive behavior in the gym is the feeling of anxiety and guilt over a missed workout. If you notice that your friend becomes unusually irritable if she/he is made to skip a workout session, then you should start getting concerned.

Another sign that can confirm the exacerbation of fitness addiction is the exaggerated post-workout high. If your friend becomes overly-excited, more than they usually are after they exercise that it feels like she/he is on a drug-high, it is probably time to raise the flag to their parents or a family member. As the addictive behavior progresses, the signs will become more blatant as your friend’s relationships will be affected by their unwavering commitment to fitness. Once a person starts to allow their commitment to fitness takes over their relationships, it is high time you took action.

When to Seek Help

While this addiction can, in the long-run, have adverse effects on the fitness addicts’ mental capacities, there still isn’t any clear-cut scientific evidence that can support this claim. However, if someone is not feeling mentally stable, she/he will need medical intervention to walk them through a healing process where they can reset their relationship with fitness.

The fact that trained specialists often have a hard time diagnosing fitness addiction makes your job to keep an eye out for your friend’s health ten times harder. However, the best thing you can do is to offer your support when they need it and be ready to take action when you have enough reasons to become concerned.