Mental Health problems in Men
According to the Mental Health Foundation, women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder than men. And yet, suicides among males by far outweigh those of females in the UK. What could be the reason for this two seemingly contradictory pieces of evidence? Many experts in the field believe that mental health problems are just as widespread among men as they are among women, only men seem to be less willing to engage in a professional diagnosis. In other words, they are less inclined to talk about it or to seek help.
Having said that, some indicators now show that this trend may be in the process of turning around. For example, recent NHS data has been worked on by statisticians in the field of eating disorders. Among diagnosed eating disorders in between 2015 and 2016, the rate of increase was about the same for both genders. Although it is not welcome to see a rise in the levels of any disorder, the point is that diagnoses are becoming more prevalent, perhaps offering clinicians a better view of how things really are, not how they appear to be. As such, it’s good to raise awareness about mental health problems, especially among men, because it means that something can be done about it. This overview shows a number of mental health problems particularly associated with males.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
This condition is sometimes the consequence of a very difficult experience. It might be a war trauma, a robbery, a sexual assault, a serious accident, a terrorist attack, a divorce or the loss of a loved one. Something that has a serious impact on our well-being can lead to prolonged stress and mental problems. People suffering from PTSD can suffer from a range of physical as well as mental symptoms, including:
– Persistent fear, even though the traumatic situation is long over.
– Constantly reliving the stressful situation, for example, by repeatedly thinking or dreaming about it.
– Physical reactions, such as trembling, sweating, nausea or hyperventilation, when hearing, seeing or reading about something that is connected to the original event.
– Avoiding memories, things or places that are related to the event.
– Feelings of depression and a lack of desire.
– Irritability, nervousness or signs of increased vigilance.
– Impaired concentration.
– Sleep problems.
Men are known to block off unpleasant thoughts and memories and ignore their mental health problems following the early studies in PTSD conducted in the aftermath of the First World War. Searching for help is very important, especially among men who have served in the military. There are several ways of treating PTSD. Developed in the 1980’s, eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR), is a common form of psychotherapy that often achieves good results. It’s a treatment involving quick eye movements that alters the way the brain stores emotional memories. Your GP may refer you to this treatment with a counsellor or other therapist.
Anxiety and Generalised Panic Disorder
An anxiety disorder is really not something that just affects women. Men are just as liable to experience panic attacks. If such a panic attack is accompanied by unpleasant physical symptoms – such as hyperventilation, heart palpitations or heavy perspiration – it may also create a further fear, thereby creating a vicious circle. Some studies show that this problem is more pronounced in males, however, anxiety and panic disorders are generally treated by a range of psychological treatments, like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
A behavioural addiction is something distinct from a substance addiction, such as dependency on drugs or alcohol. An example of a behavioural addiction would be playing video games all day long without a break. Another might be a gambling addiction which can lead to high levels of indebtedness.
Sexual addiction is also common in men and some research in the United States suggests that in the region of five percent of males might suffer from it during their lives at some point. The effects of behavioural addiction can be enormous – from financial problems to the destruction of familial relationships. In turn, this might lead to loneliness and persistent depression. Seeking help can help a behavioural addict to break the vicious circle.
– Persistent gloom
– Little or no interest in your surroundings
– No motivation to do anything whatsoever
– More or less food intake
– More or less sleep
– Difficulty with thinking, concentrating and making decisions
– Fatigue and a lack of energy
– Restlessness or the inability to move
Symptoms of Depression
The symptoms of depression are similar in men women. These vary, but according to the National Institute of Mental Health, men are more likely to see certain ones in their own life if another male family member has exhibited similar symptoms before.
Symptoms men might notice include:
– Physical symptoms, such as back pain, headaches or stomach aches
– A reduced Libido
– Reckless behaviour
Some men who suffer from depression or other mental health problems might go on to form suicidal thoughts or recurrent thoughts about death. The figures are staggering: every minute a man dies from suicide somewhere in the world. That’s very shameful because depression can be treated if you seek help. If you, or someone in your group, suffer from suicidal thoughts, you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123, an organisation which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
What should you do if you have a Mental Health Problem?
Many men keep quiet about their mental symptoms. In our culture, there is still a “big boys do not cry” mentality, combined with the famous British “stiff upper lip” attitude. This is unfortunate because a lot of misery can be prevented just by talking about it. Mental problems in men are usually treatable, for example, through therapy and/or medication.
If you suffer from psychological symptoms, do not suffer in silence but talk! Talk to family, a friend or your GP. If you do not want to talk to someone you know, there are special helplines you can call free of charge and anonymously, such as the aforementioned Samaritans or MIND.
Sources: menshealthforum.org.uk, NHS.uk, Mind,Nimh.nih.gov, Addiction Hope, Men’s Health Forum