Men’s mental health is something that is not commonly talked about in our society. But glossing over existing problems will not lead to a solution. So the topic is very relevant to both the older generation and guys who are just entering adulthood and facing their first difficulties.
According to statistics, which are more or less the same for the Western world, about 1 in 8 men have mental health problems. However, men rarely seek help from specialists or even support from loved ones. Men bury themselves by creating a kind of halo of brutality, steadfastness, and strength that does not need the support of others.
Today we want to look at men’s most common mental problems and how to deal with them. But first, we need to understand why we men look at their mental health with their sleeves down and what the consequences are.
Why men don’t talk about their mental health
It all starts with upbringing; almost from the very cradle, divided into boys and girls, not by gender, but by behavior. From early childhood, they are taught that a man should be strong, no matter what. He must not show weakness; he has no right to cry; he needs to be a wall behind which he can hide. A wall without feelings or worries, because complaining is for wimps, and you’re not like that.
That’s why most men don’t go to the doctor, because complaining about headaches is embarrassing, and depression even more so because you know you’ll be labeled pathetic when you admit to having problems. They can’t just seem weak, especially around other guys, because it can make them seem less masculine, at least somewhere inside themselves. Even if they feel to cry from emotional overload, they have to hide it by guffawing or pretending they don’t care.
What is described above is pride, which is extremely important to any normal man. Yes, they are prone to pride, as nature intended because power used to mean everything from security to possession of women. Society has moved miles forward since then, but in their subconscious, they are still those animals that have just come down from the trees.
All these factors, from their upbringing as children to the propaganda of supposed masculinity and pride, force them to hide their emotions to feel stronger inside and appear strong to those around them. No doubt society today is not what it was 50 years ago, but it’s still scary to admit to someone with mental problems because they don’t know if they’ll support him or label him a wimp, a faker, or a psycho.
Mental health statistics for men
Again, since the data is about the same for the Western world, we will cite statistics from countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, where the problem of men’s mental health has been studied much longer than in other countries.
According to statistics, about 36% of men change their personality, hiding the presence of psychological problems to appear strong, which is identical to their understanding of masculinity. Data from YouGov, a U.K.-based international Internet company, shows that 55 percent of men between the ages of 18 and 24 said in surveys that showing tears to others made them feel less masculine. It’s about the same pattern as admitting to having mental health problems.
This leads to a very sad result: men are 4 times more likely to end their lives than women. For example, according to data from the U.S., in 2010, there were about 35,000 cases of suicide, and 80% of the victims were men. In the United Kingdom, the figure is 75%.
Not every man, overwhelmed by emotions and mental disorders, decides to do such a radical act, and many drown the pain with alcohol and illegal substances. For example, statistics show that 1 out of 5 men in the United States suffers from alcohol addiction, many of whom do this to try to cure their emotional overstress. There are about 3.5 million people with schizophrenia in the U.S., and only 10% are women. If these men had gotten medical help in time, this number would have been many times less.
Why mental health is so important and why it’s worth talking to other people about It
As you can understand from the statistics above, mental health disorders sometimes cause men to go to extreme measures, from alcoholism and drug addiction to settling accounts with life. These statistics are not meant to scare you and show that you – the one who hides his pain from others – are bound to earn schizophrenia or voluntarily end your existence. No, it’s about something else, namely, the importance of this aspect.
You have to understand that silence doesn’t make you strong and talking about psychological problems, even trivial stress, and burnout doesn’t look like weakness in other people’s eyes. Strength is when you can calmly talk about your issues, even if someone doesn’t share your views and is stuck somewhere in the 19th century regarding their level of thinking.
Why is it important to talk about mental health issues with others? To begin with, you’ll realize you’re not alone in your problems. Once upon a time, being unable to have children was also considered a taboo topic, and no one would dare discuss the topic in the company of other men, as it automatically made you look weak in the eyes of others. Today you can safely discuss this burning topic with friends and find sympathy and support. Understand that many men have difficulties in life and also need to speak out and get help. When you open up to another person, certainly someone you can trust, you will be one step closer to healing.
It’s just as important to get adequate treatment. We said above that many men who have schizophrenia could be helped and make their lives less difficult, prevent the disease from progressing further or at least slow it down. This can only be accomplished if men stop trying to appear as strong as possible and start talking about what’s bothering them.
Now that we have looked at the statistics and understood why it is important to monitor your mental health, let’s move on to the most common problems affecting men.
The 5 most common men’s mental health problems
1. Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a disorder that causes obsessive thoughts that can lead to compulsive behaviors. Compulsions are constant and unsuccessful attempts to eliminate negative thoughts through compulsive and tedious actions.
Even though this disorder is treated almost as fiction, it is a serious disorder that affects many men. As men take responsibility for the entire family, this sense of duty, the obligation of certain actions, exacerbates OCD. It can manifest as impulsive actions and fanatical thinking, which greatly reduce the quality of life.
Scientists are not yet much closer to understanding why people develop OCD. Often left unchecked, OCD gradually develops and increasingly affects life.
One of the most common disorders that are diagnosed in men. It is characterized by moodiness, depression, sadness, anxiety, apprehension, or indifference, decreased or lost the capacity for pleasure, low self-esteem, loss of interest in life, pessimism, concentration problems, fatigue, sleep and appetite disorders, and sometimes a desire to end one’s life.
Many men underestimate the dangers of depression, seeing it as something like a slightly heightened form of stress. This leads to a constant suppression of their emotions because, in society, there is still a stereotype that depression is just a state of mind, which can be suppressed or cured by a good conversation over a bottle of hard liquor. The demonstration of depression is perceived as weakness.
It is depression that is the determining factor in many cases, so ignoring it can lead to tragic consequences.
3. Bipolar disorder
This is a “fashionable” diagnosis that many teenagers try on today, wanting to appear different. But in fact, it is a serious mental disorder that you wouldn’t wish on your enemy. Although bipolar disorder is triggered by genetic factors, the social component, including men’s constant holding back of their emotions, also adds to the problem.
Bipolar disorder causes dramatic changes in mood, functionality, energy levels, and other aspects of daily life. Bipolar disorder is difficult to diagnose early because of its similarity to depression. It is not uncommon for men suffering from this disorder to begin abusing substances, especially during the depressive phase of the condition.
4. Emotional burnout syndrome
A burnout syndrome is a state of psychological exhaustion appearing in response to emotional overstrain while working with people. It manifests as growing indifference to one’s responsibilities, dehumanization of others, a feeling of professional insolvency, and a sharp deterioration of life quality.
In a sense, emotional burnout is inseparable from depression. Still, at the same time, it is a separate mental disorder focused only on professional activity but affects life outside work processes.
5. Social anxiety disorder
Social anxiety disorder, better known as sociophobia, is a pathological condition characterized by a fear that occurs when engaging in social situations. A person with sociophobia may find that they have difficulty interacting with society, and others may feel as if they are lazy or don’t put enough effort into socializing. And since everything in this world is tied to social interaction, being included in society causes a lot of stress, making everyday life difficult.
A new social environment or professional responsibilities, negative life experiences, temperament, physiological deficiencies, and other factors influence the development of sociophobia. All of these can lead to the development of addiction, usually to alcohol or illegal substances. And while in many other psychiatric disorders, stimulants numb the pain, they act as a tool to remove restrictions and suppress the fear of interacting with society.
How to cope with male mental health problems
The fact that you admit to having mental health problems is already one step toward recovery because many men are afraid even to allow the thought that something is wrong with their mental health. There are several ways to deal with these problems.
1. Talk to someone you trust
For starters, it’s worth talking to someone you can trust with your problems, someone who won’t make fun of you. Just the fact that you spoke out will ease your soul because you stop hiding your problems from everyone around you. If, moreover, you will receive feedback in the form of sympathy and support, it will help you to recover your spirit and understand that you – are not alone in this world, and others are suffering emotionally in the same way, those who will not judge you for your alleged weakness.
2. Don’t be shy about crying
One of the most effective cures for stress is tears. And no, it doesn’t make you less masculine. Of course, you shouldn’t cry for any reason lest you look like a wimp, but when you’re overwhelmed with emotion, don’t keep it to yourself, at least not when no one sees you. Crying helps regulate your emotions, improves your mood, flushes toxins out of your body, relieves stress, and improves sleep.
3. Add more positivity to your life
Life seems grey and dull when you are depressed or have other mental disorders. In that case, you need to add something that will start to fill your body with joy hormones, like going on vacation to a place you’ve long dreamed of visiting, meeting new company or at least just eating something tasty like chocolate or ice cream. The main thing is that it makes you happy, at least a little bit.
Gradually you will be able to reduce the impact of stress on you or at least bring your body into balance, diluting the negativity with positivity.
4. Exercise regularly
Living in a big city and a sedentary lifestyle has turned the average person into an almost sedentary amoeba. And since we were originally very mobile creatures, the lack of movement causes depression. That’s why it’s worth exercising regularly to reduce the likelihood of developing mental disorders. It depends on your preferences, but it has to be something that gives you emotional satisfaction and doesn’t destroy your body.
5, Seek professional help
In our country, the attitude toward psychologists and psychiatrists is ambiguous. People are afraid of these specialists because they believe you should go once – and that’s it, you are branded crazy. But this is nonsense. No one will consider you crazy, especially not a doctor. The fact that you came to see a specialist and shared your worries tells you that there’s nothing wrong with your head; it’s just that your mental health needs improvement.