Men's mental health is a hidden crisis in 2020. Society has taught young men that they are supposed to be tough and suppress emotions. But reality proves that if problems are ignored they only grow over time. The men's mental health problem has been ignored for decades. While millions of men are confused, isolated and possibly contemplating suicide.
Getting men to report symptoms of depression is at the heart of this issue. The biggest barrier for men to seek mental health services is "stigma". Mental health stigma is the idea that mental illness is not real. Society puts pressure on individuals to be mentally stable and normal when it's never that simple. Mental illness needs to be normalized to the level of physical illnesses.
Unfortunately, Mental health has been reserved as an afterthought. As if anything you feel inside your mind doesn't matter. But sadly our thoughts drive us to make decisions in the real world that affect our physical health.
Symptoms of Depression in Men
Surprisingly, some signs of depression in men are the same for women. However, there are some indicators of depression that manifest differently in both genders. Everyone should look out for these indicators of depression in others, it could be a signal that they need mental health help.
- Seeing or hearing things that are not there
- Extremely high and low moods
- Aches, headaches, or digestive problems without a clear cause
- Social withdrawal
- Thoughts of suicide
- Changes in sleep habits
- Sadness that persists for a month or longer
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Abuse of alcohol and/or drugs
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Excessive fear or worry
Signs of Depression in Men that differ from Women
- Escapist behavior, such as spending a lot of time at work or on sports
- Physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive problems, and pain
- Problems with alcohol or drug use
- Controlling, violent or abusive behavior
- Irritability or inappropriate anger
- Risky behavior, such as reckless driving
Suicide Rates in Men
In the United States, Men die by suicide 3.5 times more often than women. That is a horrendous statistic. It's an injustice to humanity. Everyone deserves the privilege to live a long and happy life.
Unfortunately, we unjustly force all men to fit into this mold of a tough masculine figure. Then society punishes them for not conforming and subsequently dismisses the resulting mental complications.
Over 75% of the suicide victims in the United States are men. These men could have been saved if his loved ones knew about the symptoms of depression in men. But the mental health stigma keeps that from being a reality.
The Breadwinner Role
In recent decades there has been a significant decline in blue-collar jobs in the United States. Specifically jobs in manufacturing that are traditionally a majority male field.
Millions of men have lost pride and a sense of fulfillment from their jobs.
The mental health stigma of men showing their true grit is not doing them any favors.
Drug and Alcohol Addiction
In all honesty, most problems in society could be solved if mental health services intervened before the problem grows. Depression in men sometimes results in substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol are escapes from the realities of life. It's a source of relief from life's internal struggles. The short term quick fix is drugs and alcohol.
More often than not, the quick fix is not the best. Alcohol use is accepted in our society. Drowning your sorrows with alcohol is a cliche. People say "It's ok, don't let it get you down cheer up, let's go out for a drink."
And before you know you're going out every weekend. Then every other day during the wee, It just progresses until you addicted.
Then the ones get out of control with their drinking we simply blame them for it. No one offered a solution. No one told their friend to seek help.
Men's roles in Families
You could imagine that if there are thousands of men out there that are currently depressed. Nothing could be more damaging than seeing indicators of depression from a loved one.
Parents are the backbone of any family. With one parent suffering from a hidden illness, the entire family suffers.
They could be demonstrating any of the symptoms of depression. These symtoms are erratic and detrimental to any family.
Where to Seek Help
Contact your primary care physician. They should be able to give a referral to a therapist or psychiatrist.
The Difference between a Therapist and a Psychiatrist
A Therapist is a licensed professional that talks to you about your problems. You can confide in this person and be assured that your matters will be confidential. Some therapist uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to change your attitude or behavior by focusing on the beliefs in your mind that explain your behavior. This can be very effective in treating depression and anxiety.
A psychiatrist usually has a Doctorate's degree and can prescribe medication as treatment.
Seeking help from both a Therapist and a psychiatrist is recommended.
Black Men's Mental
Only 7% of African American men seek mental health services versus 11% for their White male counterparts. Symptoms of depression in men are the same no matter the man's ethnicity. So depression in men should be treated at the same rate. First, we have to raise awareness in the Black community that seeking Mental Health services is important. The mental health stigma is very strong in the black community. Symptoms of depression are ignored in Black culture.
Men's mental health is a social issue There should be an intervention at key points where male depression can set in. Such as unemployment or divorce. These are critical moments in a man's life where getting some support would be beneficial.
Therefore changing the future has to start with children because they are the future. There should be more school programmed that inform young adults about the warning signs of mental illness. The mental health stigma needs to be attacked before we can make a difference. Public acceptance of both genders seeking mental health services will slowly grow.
The Sour Topics Podcast
It is the goal of the Sour Topics podcast to raise awareness about men seeking mental health services. I want to erode the mental health stigma that keeps millions from getting the help that they so desperately need.
The Sour Topics Podcast can be found on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Anchor.fm.