While there is certainly an overall stigma associated with mental health and mental illness, there is little question that there is an overwhelming stigma surrounding men and mental health in American society. When comparing men versus women in terms of mental health, it is well-known that women are more likely to seek out help for their mental health struggles more so than men. When compared to women, men are also less likely to seek treatment or therapy services, less likely to disclose their mental health symptoms to a family member, friend, or clinical professional, and, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, are less likely to receive a clinical mental health diagnosis.
As a specific mental health issue, depression in men is of considerable concern. Depression is one of the most common or frequent mental health issues that impact people in society. Depression is not just feeling sad but is rather clinical diagnosis that is a serious medical illness that negatively affects how a person feels, how a person thinks, and how a person acts or behaves. Depression is considered a mood disorder that creates ongoing or persistent feelings of sadness that can also cause a loss of interest in things that were once enjoyable.
However, as is the case with most mental health issues or mental illness, many people consider depression a weakness or something that the sufferer simply can change their mind about or snap out of with enough effort. This is simply untrue. Often advice will be given such as “Just get outside more and take a walk in nature” or “Get more active and you won’t feel so sad.” While these things are good advice, they are not treatments for clinical depression. Furthermore, such advice, while given with good motives, can contribute to the stigma of mental health and depression, especially in men. Men believe if they suffer from depression they are not being “enough of a man”, they are weak, and the shame and guilt of living with a mental health issue intensifies.
Men’s mental health and depression statistics
- 6 million men in America are affected by depression every year
- 1 in 16 American men report being depressed
- 9% of American men have feelings of depression or anxiety every day
- Of the millions of men who suffer from depression each year, only 1 in 4 said that they sought help for their depression by speaking to a mental health professional like a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist
- Men are 4 times more likely to die by suicide than women
Men, due to societal standards of traditional masculinity, are expected to be “strong” or, if they suffer from any issues, are expected to “figure out it on their own.” The idea of asking for help or encountering an issue (especially something like a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety) is often frowned upon or looked at as weak. However, clinical depression is simply not something someone can try to will their way out of with a positive mindset.
Signs and symptoms of clinical depression in men can include:
- Aggressiveness, anger, or irritability
- Constant feelings of anxiety, restlessness, or being “on edge”
- Loss of interest in things that used to be enjoyable, including relationships, family, work, activities, or hobbies
- Ongoing feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Issues with sexual desire, sexual arousal, or sexual performance
- Other behavioral health issues rising to the surface, such as substance use or misuse, overeating or restricting food, technology addiction, shopping addiction, porn addiction, or spending addiction
- A loss of the inability to meet life demands and responsibilities, whether at work or at home
- Risk taking behaviors
- Withdrawing from family and friends, antisocial behaviors, or isolating
- Lack of concentration
- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
For men that may be experiencing depression, it is important to understand that vocalizing their struggles and asking for or seeking help is not weak and not a judgement of their character or their masculinity; rather it is a demonstration of strength. Asking for help is the bravest thing anyone can do that is unable to overcome an issue on their own. For men that may be experiencing depression, there are several steps to take.
How men can ask for mental health help:
- Reach out to a clinical mental health professional
- Get an accurate diagnosis
- Engage in treatment, psychiatry, therapy, and/or counseling
- Important positive and holistic lifestyle changes
For men that suffer from depression, it is important not to hide in the shadows and deny they may be suffering, but instead to reach out to family, friends, and trusted mental health professionals. Take action and engage in the care that is available. Mental health conditions like depression are not hopeless and there is a lot of quality care available. Depression in men is very common and a mental health issue that is easily managed or overcome, but the important first step is recognizing the problem and reaching out to ask for help.
If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.