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Open Access Research

Eating disorders and anabolic androgenic steroids in males - similarities and differences in self-image and psychiatric symptoms

Tabita Björk1*, Kurt Skårberg23 and Ingemar Engström23

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Psychiatry, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

2 Psychiatric Research Centre, Örebro, Sweden

3 School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden

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Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 2013, 8:30  doi:10.1186/1747-597X-8-30

Published: 19 August 2013

Abstract

Background

Body dissatisfaction is common among both females and males. Dissatisfaction with the body is a risk factor both for onset of eating disorders and for abuse of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS). Few studies have however investigated if there are other similarities in respect to self-image or psychiatric symptoms between clinical samples of eating disordered males and males in treatment for negative effects of AAS use.

Aim

The aim of this study was to compare two clinical samples, one of males with ED and one of males who used AAS, regarding self-image and psychiatric symptoms.

Methods

This study compared males with eating disorders (n = 13) and males who recently stopped AAS use (n = 29) on self-image and psychiatric symptoms, using The Structural Analysis of Social Behavior self-questionnaire and a shortened version of The Symptom Check List.

Results

The eating disorder group reported significantly lower scores for Self-emancipation and Active self-love and higher scores for Self-blame and Self-hate. Both groups reported serious psychiatric symptoms. The common denominator between groups was serious psychiatric symptomatology rather than negative self-image.

Conclusions

The negative self-image profile, especially self-hate, found among males with Eating Disorders may indicate that the studied groups differ in aetiology of the underlying problems. The serious psychiatric symptoms in both groups call staff to pay attention to any thoughts of suicide due to severe depressive symptoms where by specialized psychiatric treatment may be needed.

Keywords:
Male eating disorders; Anabolic androgenic steroids; Self-image; Psychiatric symptoms