Men’s Mental Health

As we near the end of June, we also conclude Men’s Mental Health Month. While maintaining physical health and eating well are both important, it’s equally essential to maintain your mental well-being. Today we will explore various topics within the realm of men’s mental health that require attention and discussion.

Recognize the signs and symptoms:

It’s important to understand the various types of mental health disorders and their impacts on our well-being, to be able to recognize them in ourselves and others and better understand their effects on our minds and bodies. The most common mental health issues observed in men include depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and suicide.

Depression affects individuals regardless of gender but tends to manifest differently in men. Instead of displaying overt sadness, men may experience symptoms such as irritability, anger, and a loss of interest in activities. The number of men affected by depression exceeds six million annually.  It is important to dispel the misconception that depression predominantly affects women, as men are often less likely to seek a diagnosis or seek help for their mental health concerns. Common symptoms of depression to be on the lookout for include feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, sadness, emptiness; sleep disturbances; loss of pleasure in things once pleasurable; difficulty concentrating; changes in appetite; and thoughts of self-harm. Depression can also manifest in physical symptoms including digestive issues, headaches, or sensations of a racing heart of tight chest, which men may take more seriously than their emotional health.

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in men. One in 10 men experience some form of depression or anxiety but less than half seek treatment. Symptoms of anxiety include persistent worry or dread, fear, mood swings, low self-esteem, stress, and restlessness, as well as physical symptoms including rapid heartbeat, nausea, headaches, chest pain, palpitations, and muscle tension. Men may exhibit sleep disturbances and irritability, and are more likely to turn to drugs and/or alcohol to self-medicate.

Substance abuse stands apart from the previously mentioned mental illnesses in that it is more prevalent in men. It is noteworthy that substance abuse can both contribute to and result from mental health issues, and can have serious consequences including seizures, stroke, and brain damage. Learn to recognize the many warning signs of substance abuse, including changes in appetite or sleep patterns, lack of personal grooming, impaired coordination, behavioral changes, and more.

Suicide, while not classified as a mental health disorder itself, remains a pressing issue. Men are disproportionately affected by suicide, with a significantly higher likelihood of dying by suicide compared to women. In fact, the suicide rate among males in 2021 was approximately four times higher than that among females. Various factors contribute to this disparity, including societal expectations, hesitancy to seek help, and underreporting of mental health symptoms.

Destigmatize the Stigma:

With respect to mental illness, women are typically diagnosed more frequently than men. This discrepancy can be attributed to the stigma surrounding men’s emotional expression. From a young age, societal expectations impose the notion that men should suppress their emotions, “be strong,” and refrain from discussing their mental health.

During a recent Instagram live session, Dr. Jaffe highlighted this important issue. He stated, “Very often young people don’t know how to communicate their feelings or choose not to communicate their feelings.” This pressure to conform to traditional notions of masculinity persists into adulthood, discouraging men from acknowledging or seeking help for their mental or physical struggles. Consequently, men are often compelled to ignore their problems or adopt an “act like a man” mentality, perpetuating the cycle of stigmatization. This leads us to the topic of toxic masculinity.

Toxic Masculinity has gained attention in recent times, but what does it truly mean? Toxic masculinity refers to a collection of attitudes and behaviors that are commonly associated with or expected of men. It is a harmful stereotype that can limit men’s emotional expression, create negative and strict gender roles, and contribute to men’s mental health issues.

The issue of toxic masculinity and its impact on men’s mental health can be addressed by destigmatizing the belief that men should not openly express their emotions. While this task may seem challenging, it is crucial for our society to foster an environment where men feel comfortable discussing their feelings. By breaking down the stigma associated with male emotional expression, we can create a space where men are reassured that it is perfectly acceptable to experience and communicate their emotions.

Getting Help:

Now that we have discussed the most common mental illnesses in men and the challenges men face due to toxic masculinity, it is important to explore ways to support and address these mental health concerns. By implementing effective strategies, we can make a positive impact on men’s well-being.

Resources. If you’re a man experiencing any form of mental health challenge, it’s important to not hesitate in seeking help. In today’s world, there are various avenues of care available to you. Opening up and talking to someone, whether it’s a friend, family member, or a trusted confidant, can be a powerful first step. If you find that your concerns require more than just a conversation with a friend, we strongly recommend seeking the assistance of a mental health professional who can provide guidance, support, and a deeper understanding of your emotions. If you’re facing more severe challenges or thoughts of suicide, please consider exploring these resources for immediate help and support.

Diet. Simply changing your diet and providing your brain and body the vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients they need can positively impact your mental health. Incorporating a well-balanced diet that includes vital nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and antioxidants can support optimal brain function and promote good mental well-being. It is important to note that while diet plays a role in mental health, it should not be seen as a substitute for professional mental health treatment. However, adopting a healthy diet can serve as a supportive factor in managing and improving mental health.

Self-care and mindfulness. Engaging in self-care activities, such as pursuing hobbies, taking regular breaks, or practicing relaxation techniques, can effectively reduce stress levels. Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, induce a state of relaxation that helps alleviate anxiety and stress. Setting aside dedicated time each day for self-care and mindfulness practices can prove beneficial in addressing the challenges we face in our daily lives. To enhance your self-care routine, you can explore our 72-minutes a day practice.

Exercise. Engaging in regular exercise is an excellent way to energize your body, boost serotonin levels, and improve your overall mood. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain, plays a key role in promoting happiness and well-being. By incorporating exercises like yoga, Pilates, or jumping rope into your routine, you can naturally elevate your mood. These physical activities stimulate the release of endorphins, which are known as “feel-good” hormones, contributing to a sense of joy and positivity. So, whether you choose to stretch and strengthen through yoga and Pilates or get your heart rate up by jumping rope, incorporating exercise into your daily life can have significant mental health benefits.

For more tips on naturally uplifting your mood, we invite you to explore our article “Beating the Blues and Blahs.” In this article, you’ll discover a variety of strategies and techniques to help enhance your emotional well-being and boost your overall mood.

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