Men and Mental Health
IN MEN'S HEALTH
One in five adults—men and women alike—suffer from a mental health issue every year, but these issues often look different for men than they do for women.
Mental Health America estimates that every year, approximately 6 million men suffer from depression—one of the most common mental health issues—and men with depression have a higher risk for suicide than women. Men also have a higher risk of substance abuse, which can mask underlying mental health problems such as depression or anxiety.
Because the symptoms of depression in men might manifest differently, it’s not uncommon for their mental health problems to go unnoticed. The National Institute of Mental Health lists common mental health symptoms men report, including:
- Irritability, aggressiveness or anger
- Difficulty concentrating
- Physical symptoms, such as headaches, ongoing pain, sexual dysfunction or digestive issues
- Fatigue, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Increased worry or stress
- A need for drugs or alcohol
- Engaging in high-risk behaviors
- Noticeable changes in energy levels, appetite or mood
If men are uncomfortable discussing their feelings and symptoms with others, their mental illness could go undiagnosed or untreated.
How to Get Help
Even though men may experience mental health issues at similar or greater rates than women, they remain unlikely to seek therapy, possibly because they view seeking help as a sign of weakness or an inability to “tough it out.”
However, mental health issues in men don’t have to go undiagnosed. If you are experiencing substance abuse problems or symptoms of depression, anxiety or another mental illness—or if you notice depression symptoms in a loved one—talk with a physician about steps you can take toward treatment.
Exploring Men’s Suicide Rates
Since 2000, the rate of suicide among men has been on the rise. Men are four times as likely to commit suicide as women, making it the seventh leading cause of death among men. In 2010, nearly 39,000 Americans died from suicide—79 percent of those deaths occurred in men. Suicide rates among Caucasian men are especially high, accounting for seven out of 10 suicides.
Although there is no single cause for suicide, it’s most commonly associated with depression, especially undiagnosed or untreated depression. Anxiety, bipolar disorder and substance abuse are also associated with suicide. Like with depression, there is a greater risk if these conditions are left untreated, making it vital that men seek treatment for mental health issues.
Those who commit suicide often exhibit warning signs, either through words or actions. If you recognize these signs in a loved one or are thinking about harming yourself, call 911 or visit your local emergency department.
Men, your health is important! Be sure to have your yearly checkup and follow up for any additional screenings and tests. If you need a primary care provider, visit www.NavicentHealth.org