Are you a man who struggles with mental health but aren’t quite sure what to do about it?
While there is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health, the conversation has finally begun to open up. However, it seems that men find it a lot harder to open up about their mental health than women.
The fact that men are afraid to seek help may be part of the reason why men are four times as likely to commit suicide than women. Luckily, the more you learn about men’s mental health, the easier it’ll be for you to open up as well as help others open up about their struggles.
Check out this guide to learn the top things you need to know about men’s mental health.
1. There’s a Difference in Condition Prevalence Between Men and Women
As we just mentioned, men are four times as likely to commit suicide than women. Interestingly enough though, women experience higher rates of mental illness.
Additionally, women are more likely to attempt suicide than men. It’s just that men are more likely to die from the act of suicide. Here are some of the most common mental health disorders that men suffer from:
According to the American Psychological Association, around 6 million men suffer from depression each year. Depression doesn’t just mean you feel sad, as everyone feels sad from time to time. Depression is a serious mood disorder that affects your ability to handle daily activities.
While both men and women suffer from depression, men are more likely to hide their emotions. For many men, this leads to irritability, anger, and aggressiveness. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to express their depression through sadness.
While everyone experiences different symptoms, here are some of the most common symptoms of depression in men:
- Aggressiveness, anger, and irritability
- Loss of interest in work, social life, and family life
- Feelings of anxiousness or restlessness
- Decreased sex drive (if you’re looking for something to increase your sex drive, you can click on this link to buy here)
- Overeating or undereating
- Thoughts of suicide
- Headaches, cramps, and physical pain
- Engaging in risky activities
- Withdrawing from family members and friends
It’s also important to understand that men experience different types of depression. The most common types include:
Major Depression: An episode of major depression may only occur once in someone’s lifetime, or they may have several episodes. This type of depression interferes with a man’s ability to work and enjoy everyday life.
Psychotic Depression: This is a type of major depression that’s accompanied by delusions and hallucinations such as hearing voices.
Season Depression: This type of depression typically occurs during the winter months when there is less sunlight and the body can’t get enough vitamin D to synthesis serotonin.
Persistent Depressive Disorder: This type of depression lasts more than two years and is less severe than major depression.
Minor Depression: This is similar to major depression, but involves symptoms that are less severe and that don’t last as long.
It’s also important to note that bipolar disorder is different than depression, although they do share some similarities. Those who suffer from bipolar disorder experience extreme lows and extreme highs. In other words, they alternate between symptoms of depression and symptoms of mania.
Anxiety is another mental health disorder that commonly affects men. In fact, one study found that one in five men will experience anxiety at some point in their lives.
Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, as it’s your body’s natural response to stress. If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, however, the feeling of fear and nervousness is with you most or all of the time. This can be paralyzing and prevent you from doing things you once loved.
There are many different types of anxiety disorders, including:
- Social anxiety disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Panic disorder
- Phobia (such as agoraphobia)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (also known as PTSD)
Just like with depression, men are more likely to bottle up their feelings of anxiety. This leads them to experience different symptoms than women.
Men who experience anxiety are likely to suffer from anger, irritability, trouble sleeping, headaches, and muscle aches and pains.
2. Men Aren’t As Open About Mental Health
As we mentioned earlier, men aren’t open about their mental health in the same way that women are. Of course, it varies from person to person, but generally speaking, men are more closed off when it comes to speaking about their mental health.
Many psychologists believe this is due to traditional gender roles and societal expectations. For example, many men think they must:
- Be the “breadwinners” of the family
- Display traditional “masculine” characteristics such as dominance, strength, stoicism, and control
- Not openly speak about their emotions
- Rely on themselves and not seek help from others
Many men may feel that showing their emotions and opening up about their struggles is a sign of weakness and that it’s “unmasculine”.
Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth, and this is where the conversation around mental health needs to change. There is nothing shameful or “unmanly” about opening up about your struggles. In fact, it’s very brave to do so.
3. Men Are More Likely to Turn to Substance Abuse and Antisocial Behaviors
Generally speaking, women are more likely to open up about their mental health struggles to family members, friends, and medical professionals. The willingness to open up makes it easier for women to seek treatment in the form of therapy or medication.
Because men are less likely to open up about their mental health struggles, they’re more likely to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with their issues. Often, men turn to alcohol and drugs to cope. And, they also tend to isolate themselves from their family members and friends.
In fact, men are twice as likely to suffer from alcoholism than women. While societal expectations certainly play a role in this, it’s also important to note that alcohol affects men differently than women.
Researchers from Yale and Columbia studied female and male college-aged drinkers. In their study, they found that men experienced a greater dopamine release than women when drinking alcohol.
Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter that acts as a chemical messenger between your neurons. When your brain releases dopamine in large amounts, it creates increased feelings of reward and pleasure. While there are healthy ways for your brain to release dopamine, there are also unhealthy ways to do it, such as drinking alcohol.
If a man is suffering from a mental health disorder, he may feel like he can’t talk to anyone because of societal expectations surrounding men. Therefore, he may turn to alcohol to cope with his symptoms, and he is likely to find that alcohol offers a temporary release from his pain.
Of course, drinking copious amounts of alcohol isn’t healthy, and in some cases, it leads to alcoholism and substance abuse.
4. Types of Men at Risk for Developing Mental Illness
While no one is completely immune to mental illness, there are certain types of men who are more at risk of developing mental illness than others.
Here are the groups that are more at risk:
White Men Over the Age of 85: More white men over the age of 85 die from suicide each year than any other demographic. According to statistics by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, around 51 of every 100,000 white men over the age of 85 commits suicide, whereas the average for all other ages is 12.6 out of every 100,000.
This means that white men over the age of 85 are more than three times as likely to commit suicide than any other age group of demographic.
Men With Employment Issues: As we mentioned earlier, many men believe it’s their duty to be the breadwinner of the family. If a man is experiencing employment issues, he may feel that he’s a “failure” to his family and struggle with his mental health.
Men With Trauma: Men who have experienced trauma in their past are also more likely to suffer from mental illness. This trauma may include sexual abuse, a death in the family, or an unstable upbringing.
Men With Financial or Legal Concerns: If a man is experiencing financial or legal concerns, he’s more likely to develop mental health problems and contemplate suicide.
Men Who Misuse Alcohol or Drugs: As we mentioned, mental health disorders can trigger a substance abuse disorder. The opposite is also true, in that the use of alcohol and drugs can also trigger a mental illness in men.
Family History: Men who have a family history of mental illness are also more likely to struggle with their mental health. This is especially the case for disorders like depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia.
5. Some Mental Disorders Affect Men Disproportionately
While women are more likely to suffer from mental health disorders than men across the board, there are some mental health disorders that affect men disproportionately.
Two-thirds of pathological gamblers are men. Men are also more likely to receive treatment for pathological gambling than women, with 96 to 98 percent of patients being men.
Additionally, men who gamble pathologically are also more likely to suffer from a co-occurring substance abuse disorder, such as alcoholism. Pathological gambling, also known as disordered gambling or compulsive gambling, is characterized by a continuous pattern of gambling despite negative psychological, physical, and social consequences.
For example, someone who suffers from pathological gambling may continue to gamble even after they’ve lost their job or isolated themselves from their friends or family members.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
Men are also more likely to suffer from antisocial personality disorder than women, with 5.8 percent of American men displaying symptoms of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) compared to 1.2 percent of women.
Symptoms of ASPD include:
- A general disregard for what is right and wrong
- Cynical, callous, and disrespectful behavior
- Persistent lying
- Persistent exploitation of others
- Significant agitation, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, or violence
- Lack of empathy towards others
- Arrogant attitude
- Extremely opinionated and high sense of superiority
- Experiences poor or abusive relationships
- Irresponsible behavior
- Repeatedly fails to fulfill work or social obligations
- Recurring problems with the law
Men typically show symptoms of antisocial personality disorder in their adolescence. They often display behavioral problems and may act out by stealing, deceiving others, repeatedly violating rules, or acting aggressively toward people and animals.
While men and women are equally likely to suffer from OCD, men are more likely to suffer from the disorder in their adolescence. OCD, also known as obsessive-compulsive disorder, is characterized by an irritational fear that leads to a set of compulsive behaviors.
For example, someone may have the irrational fear that a family member is going to die, so they deal with the fear by flicking the light on and off a certain number of times (aka, a compulsive behavior).
6. Men Also Suffer From Eating Disorders
Due to its portrayal in the larger society, many people believe that eating disorders only affect women. While eating disorders affect women at a higher rate, they also affect men.
In fact, one in three people who struggle with an eating disorder is male. Generally speaking, eating disorders in men are undertreated, underdiagnosed, and misunderstood. In fact, most eating disorder treatment centers are branded to and target women.
While all men are susceptible to eating disorders, certain men are more susceptible than others. A recent study found that 30 percent of men with eating disorders had a history of sexual abuse. Additionally, men with eating disorders are more likely to suffer from depression and shame.
Men’s Mental Health: Letting Go of the Stigma
Now that you know these facts about men’s mental health, it’s time to share this information so you can start spreading awareness about the issue.
If you’re a male experiencing mental health issues or you know a man who struggles with mental health, know that there is no shame in seeking help. The first step is to talk to your doctor about your mental health so you can form a plan of action.
And, check back in with our website for more mental health-related news and tips.