There is already a stigma around mental health. It still gives people a bad taste in their mouths when they talk about it. Some people don’t believe in it and don’t care to learn about it at all. This is not a good mindset for men to have if they are struggling with their mental health. I decided to make a whole post dedicated to men because there is such a stigma around men having mental health problems, or even problems at all. They feel as though they are looked at as weak because they might admit they are feeling something. This is not at all true. Men are just as important as women and I want to make sure people understand that after reading this post.
Men are more likely to show signs of a mental illness by showing signs of anger, irritability, and aggression. According to research on this, it is shown that men with mental illnesses are less likely to receive any treatment for themselves. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) men are more likely to commit suicide. Other factors may also be at play in their lives such as relationship issues, work, health, money, etc. Mental health affects how a man eats, how he sleeps, & thinks. It can affect his work, or school, & being able to keep stable relationships with friends and family.
Some warning signs to look out for in men are:
- Expressing anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
- Noticeable changes in mood, appetite, or energy levels
- Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Misusing drugs and alcohol
- Engaging in high risk activities
- Increasing stress or worry
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Having thoughts or behaviors that interfere with social life, work, or family
- Having trouble feeling any positive feelings. Feeling numb
- Obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior
- Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge
- Aches, headaches, digestive issues without a clear reason for it
- Unusual thinking or behaviors that concern other people
- Suicidal thoughts
I’m trying to instill in my son that it is okay to feel. It is even okay to feel deeply, and cry some. I want him to know what his feelings are and how to handle them when they arise. That way if anything out of the ordinary comes up, or if something he feels scares him, we know what to do. I don’t want him to feel like he is weak because he is having a rough time. Some men feel that they are weak if they admit to having problems and/or a mental illness.
There are a lot of different reasons that men won’t go to speak with someone about their mental health. One being because they don’t want to talk with a stranger about something that is very vulnerable. They are worried about how judgmental people can be. They might be worried about the way it will affect them socially and how they may look to others.
Mental health is NOT a sign of weakness.
According to NIMH, there are a few causes for mental illnesses:
- Environmental stress (Loss of a loved one, financial, work stress, major life changes, or stressful situations)
As with anyone, mental illnesses can occur in men who have a serious medical condition. This could be cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
The first step in getting the help you need is making sure you have been diagnosed accurately and follow up with treatments and therapy. Most illnesses (if not all) need professional treatment to get better. Without professional help over time, they could get a lot worse. Most men self medicate and tend to treat their mental health problems by using drugs and alcohol. Doing it this way, it is very likely it could lead to suicide. Suicide is actually one of the leading causes of death in the US, men are taking their lives at rates almost four times higher than women. So men are more likely to die by suicide (84% and 69%, Nicole Greene, 2018).
Suffering in silence is not something we should ever accept. It is not a health option for anyone. We care deeply for the men in our lives and want to see them flourish and get better.
A few things we can do to help these men out are:
- Encourage them to talk with their doctors.
- Check on them
- Listen, show support, and be patient.
Men, we know you feel alone right now. You feel isolated and overwhelmed with stresses in your lives on top of what is going on in your head. Please speak out. Seek a health professional. We want to see you better. You are worthy of love and support, even if you don’t feel like you are. I know it’s hard to come out and talk about the darkness in your mind, but we are here for you every step of the way.
I have some words from some wonderful gentleman below. They talk about their experiences with their mental health and how they have been coping with it. I know it wasn’t easy writing this for the post, even though everything is anonymous. I want you to be able to read other men’s stories and know, you are not alone.
“So for my depression. I’ve probably had it my whole life, but wasn’t as potent during the innocence of childhood. But it was definitely there. I would just want to be alone for the most part, away from my family, and occasionally, I would want to be away from my friends. I remember one time my best friends called me to all hangout and I actually lied to the as to where I was because I just wanted to walk around my neighborhood, alone. Overall, depression gives me a sense of emptiness, which sometimes translates to sadness, but I would compare depression to just having a feeling of being dead inside. Or at least, not very alive lol. Living with it, and not really knowing what it was, my coping mechanism to deal with it short term was usually substance abuse, weed or alcohol. Long term, I just really let it shape my view of the world. It gave me a profoundly pessimistic view of the world. “No one cared about me, no one would be there for me, I was a piece of shit, and the world was horrible”. I still think that, to this very day, and honestly, I can’t ever imagine not thinking it. But through that pessimism, I found love for others. I found kindness because I didn’t want to treat anyone else the way I treat myself. No one was going to be there for me, but I could be there for others. No one cares about me, but I could care for others. I do believe the world is horrible. It full of awful, greedy, and corrupt people that rule this world, and together they spread fear and hate.
And I genuinely believe that will never change without some incredibly drastic change, but being able to see the world that way, just makes me want to be nicer to others. I was officially diagnosed with depression approximately 2 years ago, and I’ve as put on Zoloft and Wellbutrin, I think maybe those helped at times, but I just stopped taking them lol. I haven’t been on meds in about a year now, and honestly, I don’t think I really need to. I am at peace with living inside of the void, but I’m able to take myself out of it when I choose or stay in like an in between space where I can care and love for others, but also have extreme negativity and emptiness.”
“Depression affects my life in ways I wish I could change. It causes my mood to fluctuate and makes it nearly impossible to change it and be pleasant to be around. A lot of energy goes into faking that I’m okay and everything is normal when I’m going through a depressive phase. That part is exhausting enough and after days on end of it, I don’t even want to see another person. I’ve learned that forcing myself to be around other people and do things when I feel that way actually helps. I’ve recently started to push myself to do things like this come out of a phase.”
“”For me, dealing with depression means that I’m anhedonic most days. I still know that I enjoy the things that I’m passionate about but don’t feel like I enjoy them. This leads to a lack of motivation to do those things, as well as the simple things that need to be done. Other days I’m irritable and easily thrown over the edge by minor inconveniences, find excuses to avoid leaving my apartment, and try to fill the lack of enjoyment by spending money with no inhibition. Then there are the lows. Take that anhedonia and multiply it. Those are the days that I don’t leave my bed unless I absolutely have to. Things like eating or showering or any hygiene just aren’t a possibility. What’s worse, I know what things might help get over these feelings, or at least relieve some exterior causes of my feelings. But doing something about instead of just making grand plans for myself seem like such a chore that I don’t have the patience or energy for.””
“My mental illnesses all play different but harmonious tunes in my day to day life. My depression makes me not want to do anything, my anxiety makes me feel bad for not getting anything accomplished, and my ADHD makes it hard to concentrate. I started making daily, weekly, and random to-do lists. I start with one or two small things to cross off quickly and devote short periods of time to some longer to-dos. Then back to a couple quick things. It’s the only way I can stay focused and get some things accomplished in my day-to-day life.”
“I have a few different symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. One of them that I use cannabis to control is my anxiety associated with talking to large groups. Ironically usually I’m taking to them about anxiety. And more specific cannabis and anxiety. I typically draw from my pool of mild indica strains with pinene and strong CGN profiles. That seems to keep me from experiencing the increased heart rate and breathing rate that I experienced before discovering cannabis and it’s role in my treatment regiment.”
“Mental illness makes me have to take at least 10 minutes when i wake up to wonder if I can make it thru my work day. It makes me wonder if I can deal with other people as a “normal person” would. It makes me question if I’m giving enough time and energy to my spouse and child. It makes me ponder if my future is dim and limited or if I can find a way to overcome my misgivings. I cope by reminding myself that I need to do well because quite a few people I love believe in me. I cope by using the hope that things will change or that I will at least see them differently with time and experience “
“Basically the type of depression I have comes in dips, but it’s ever-present if that even makes sense. Essentially, I always kind of have that looming feeling. Even when I’m having the greatest day of my life. Depression is the abyss that stares back – with the worst part about it all is that it’s your own brain – an invisible illness of the mind. It is bitterly cold, dreadful, and lonely.
The important thing to note about discussing this is that there are two answers to “how does one deal with a mental illness?”. The first being: you don’t deal. Sometimes I don’t have an answer for the problem and give my brain what it wants. So I cease to exist. I inform whoever needs to know of my whereabouts/well-being and I detach. I forget about my phone, I forget about everything and I plant my ass in my bed under as many things that can cover me and sleep. It’s been a long time since I’ve entertained the thought of suicide. Over time I’ve forced myself to realize that I don’t want to die, I desperately just want to feel alive. Which is usually what I try to remind myself when my own brain is hellbent on making me feel like a worthless degenerate piece of shit who doesn’t deserve anything good.
I used to drink a lot. It helped make things feel more interesting and to be honest it was a reach for me to force the joy out of myself and try to not feel like myself for just a little bit. I was never an alcoholic, but let’s just say I quit drinking shortly after I should have.
Tbh after I started smoking weed, that’s when I started noticing vast improvement. No, it doesn’t fix anything. I can’t smoke away depression (and there days where nothing really works). But holy shit does it help. I just kind of have a more relaxed mindset and things just become easier to handle. I eventually began to treat it like a medication and use it as needed.
My other way of coping is just to keep my mind so incredibly busy that it has no choice but to always be working on something else. So if I’m not cleaning or fixing something, I probably have my guitar with me.
Again, neither of these are guaranteed to work/help. Sometimes I just do nothing and fuck around on Reddit, YouTube or the 87 chrome tabs I have open. It’s easy to get pulled in and lost in the digital world when real life is static.
Honestly, I’m just scared for my kids. I truly don’t deserve them and I hope if they end up inheriting this from me, I hope I can be a rock for them and someone they can open up to about it so that we can get them whatever they need to have the greatest life they can.“
“It’s odd. When I think of my mental illness and how it’s affected me I often find myself retracing my journey and my perception of what mental illness was for the longest time. I thought its occurrence was rare, I thought that you just don’t randomly “get it,” and I never, ever thought people of faith got it.
I grew up in a very Christian home and mental illness was NEVER talked about. It was NEVER a thing for Christians. We just DON’T get it. I was never personally affected until college. At the time, I didn’t realize it wasn’t healthy to tell myself, “Feeling like I’m in an unescapable hole is just self discovery.”
It wasn’t until 2018 when I realized these “extremely dark moments” were actually depression.
I only found out because it went on so long in 2018 that it started affecting my friendships, my goals and my marriage. I simply wasn’t the same person in these bouts of depression. I wanted to escape from not necessarily existence, but from this constant, exhausting stream of thought that I was worthless and would never leave any mark or legacy on the world.
It was such an odd catch 22, because I wanted nothing more than to be remembered, to leave a mark—no matter how small—yet, it was that very circle of thought that kept me in the place where I stopped trying too much of anything. Around and around it went. Wanting to leave a mark on the world, but because I didn’t believe I’d see my footprints in the sand, I stopped trying to move forward.
How I coped was very small at first. A music journal, where I would record my thoughts and feelings, was like putting those emotions in an accessible medium I could then assess, lay down, and leave in another room for a time.
Other coping methods were prayer and meditating on the beauty of nature while also being out in nature as much as possible. I found exercise helped me refocus my energy to push through dark thoughts that typically had a lethargic toll on my body.
Finally—big surprise here—talking to my wife and being completely open and vulnerable about it helped. To specify, confiding to someone I trusted and who didn’t judge me helped, and I found that person in my wife.
Men are often “seen” as weak when they’re vulnerable and express their innermost feelings to others, but I see it as the strongest thing one can do.”
Thank you all for reading! I want to make sure our men know that they are loved and cared for.
***If you or someone you know is struggling in a crisis, get help IMMEDIATELY. Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255.***
****Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare professional. My blog is used to discuss mental health in a way that is easier for people to understand. My information comes from a wide variety of books by trustworthy authors, my personal healthcare providers, and reputable online sources. If you have mental health related questions, I highly recommend you seek a healthcare professional.”
2 thoughts on “Men’s Mental Health”
It’s hard to check in when distance, space needed to deal with it…ongoing. Part says patience and don’t run. I don’t want to push further away and thus far trying to support hasn’t been positive. 😦
I believe there remains a societal mentality, albeit perhaps subconscious: Men can take care of themselves, and boys are basically little men. Over many years of news-media consumption, I’ve noticed that when victims of sexual abuse are girls their gender is readily reported as such; however, when they’re boys, they’re usually referred to gender-neutrally as children. It’s as though, as a news product made to sell the best, the child victims being female is somehow more shocking than if male.
Also, I’ve heard and read news-media references to a 19-year-old female victim as a ‘girl’, while (in an unrelated case) a 17-year-old male perpetrator was described as a ‘man’. Could it be that this is revelatory of an already present gender bias held by the general news consumership, since news-media tend to sell us what we want or are willing to consume thus buy?
It could be the same mentality that might help explain why the book Childhood Disrupted was only able to include one man among its six interviewed adult subjects, there presumably being such a small pool of ACE-traumatized men willing to formally tell his own story of childhood abuse. It could be yet more evidence of a continuing subtle societal take-it-like-a-man mindset; one in which so many men, even with anonymity, would prefer not to ‘complain’ to some stranger/author about his torturous childhood, as that is what ‘real men’ do. [I tried multiple times contacting the book’s author via internet websites in regards to this non-addressed florescent elephant in the room, but I received no response.]
According to the author of The Highly Sensitive Man (2019, Tom Falkenstein, Ch.1): “At the same time, academics are telling us that ‘we know far less about the psychological and physical health of men than of women.’ Why is this? Michael Addis, a professor of psychology and a leading researcher into male identity and psychological health, has highlighted a deficit in our knowledge about men suffering from depression and argues that this has cultural, social, and historical roots.
If we look at whether gender affects how people experience depression, how they express it, and how it’s treated, it quickly becomes clear that gender has for a long time referred to women and not to men. According to Addis, this is because, socially and historically, men have been seen as the dominant group and thus representative of normal psychological health. Women have thus been understood as the nondominant group, which deviated from the norm, and they have been examined and understood from this perspective. One of the countless problems of this approach is that the experiences and specific challenges of the ‘dominant group,’ in this case men, have remained hidden. …
While it is true that a higher percentage of women than men will be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or a depressive episode, the suicide rate among men is much higher. In the United States, the suicide rate is notably higher in men than in women. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men account for 77 percent of the forty-five thousand people who kill themselves every year in the United States. In fact, men commit suicide more than women everywhere in the world. Men are more likely to suffer from addiction, and when men discuss depressive symptoms with their doctor, they are less likely than women to be diagnosed with depression and consequently don’t receive adequate therapeutic and pharmacological treatment. …
This is backed up by numerous psychological studies over the last forty years that tell us that, despite huge social change, the stereotypical image of the ‘strong man’ is still firmly with us at all ages, in all ethnic groups, and among all socio-economic backgrounds. In the face of problems, men tend not to seek out emotional or professional help from other people. They use, more often than women, alcohol or drugs to numb unpleasant feelings and, in crises, tend to try to deal with things on their own, instead of searching out closeness or help from others.”