Mental Health: Men, Mental Health and Depression
An interesting phenomenon happened to me as I was preparing to write this article; I “googled” the keyword phrases men, mental health, and male mental health and found that these keyword phrases were searched on less than 1,600 times in the past month. What an eye-opener and how poignant it is since mental health in men is being called the silent crisis.
Male mental health issues are sleeper issues which means they are lurking right under the surface and ready to break though. Although there is much written about the changes in the role of women in society over the past 100 to 150 years, there is little written on the same topic for men. Men have not been left unscathed by the changes in society and culture. There are new emerging pressures arising for men which are a result of changes in society, work, family and personal life.
Gender Specific Mental Health: Men, Mental Health and Depression
Gender specific mental health awareness is more prevalent for women than men. This may be due to gender specific behaviors of women such as; talking about their emotions more openly than men and banding together in support groups. Women are more likely than men to seek out help with mental health issues. In fact, men are more likely to avoid both mental health and medical health care situations all together.
Mental Health Reasons: Men, Mental Health and Depression
There are several reasons being posited about why there is such a big difference in men and women and their openness to seek medical or mental health support. One of these reasons is that men, more than women, are more likely to look to their partner and friends as their main resource for support. When men do go to a physician, they primarily focus on physical issues and do not think to open up and talk about how their physical issues feel or about their emotional reactions to how they are feeling. It is postulated that this resistance to bringing up fears and feeling is related to cultural perceptions that masculinity means men are to be strong and weakness is not manly.
Research on depression estimates that annually about 6 million men suffer from depression in America. Even though this number is smaller than the number of women who suffer from depression, men are four times more likely to end their life in suicide than women. Women may make more suicide attempts more frequently, but men are more successful at committing suicide.
Mental Health: Men, Mental Health and Depression Questions
This raises the question – are men more likely to commit suicide because they are less likely to seek mental health or medical help? Is this because men can admit to physical conditions such as fatigue, headaches, irritability, loss of interest in work, lowered sexual drive and sleep disturbances, but are not able to identify feelings of sadness, worthlessness, hopelessness, powerlessness?
Men need to know that when they are experiencing the physical symptoms of depression listed above, along with substance abuse or drug dependence, that they may actually be depressed and need treatment. Physicians also need to be able to recognize when physical symptoms and coping strategies may be pointing to depression.
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