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Treatment for Mental Illness in Men

There are specific challenges and considerations that relate to men’s mental health that keep them from receiving the diagnoses and care that they need.

Navigation: Mental Illness in Men: Signs and Symptoms to Watch Out for, , Common Mental Health Issues in Men: Male Depression, Anxiety in Men, Bipolar Disorder in Men, Substance Abuse Disorder in Men, PTSD in Men, Why Do Men Have a Higher Risk of Suicide?, Mental Health Treatment Options for Men, Rehab Is Your Best Chance

 

Mental health issues affect people regardless of their gender. However, societal expectations, cultural norms, and personal factors can influence the treatment and recovery process. The biggest example of this is how men are less likely than women to seek treatment for mental health disorders. They are also less likely to receive a formal diagnosis, and yet they are nearly four times more likely to die by suicide.

There are specific challenges and considerations that relate to men’s mental health that keep them from receiving the diagnoses and care that they need. Men are expected to be emotionally strong and avoid showing vulnerability because of social norms around gender. Young men are taught to keep their emotions hidden from a young age. And this is part of the reason why men grow up to downplay their mental health symptoms or don’t acknowledge what they are going through.

Even if they recognize that they have a problem, they may be reluctant to seek help. Traditional masculine norms often discourage men from expressing vulnerability, sadness, or emotional distress.

Due to stigma and a reluctance to acknowledge their own mental health struggles, men might underreport their symptoms or go undiagnosed. This can result in untreated conditions, leading to more severe issues over time. All of this is due to fear of being perceived as weak or less masculine.

Here we will talk more about mental health challenges faced by men and how treatment works for them.

 

Mental Illness in Men: Signs and Symptoms to Watch Out for

Men and mental health have a complicated relationship. Men might be more prone to certain mental health issues due to factors such as societal pressure to succeed, financial stress, work-related stress, and relationship difficulties.

Men also have different communication styles compared to women, which can impact how they express their emotions. They might be more inclined to suppress their feelings or mask them with anger or irritability. Instead of saying how they feel, they might turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse or other risky behaviors.

In order to protect them from the adverse effects of mental disorders, it is important to recognize some of the warning signs and symptoms of mental illness.

Different mental illnesses may produce different symptoms. The effects may also vary widely among individuals. But some common mental health symptoms experienced by men include aggression, violence, engaging in high-risk activities, substance abuse, developing eating disorders, weight changes, fatigue, chronic headaches, stomachaches, feelings of restlessness, and obsessive thinking.

Men might express emotional distress through anger, irritability, or hostility. This can manifest as outbursts of anger, difficulty controlling temper, or a generally short fuse. Alternatively, they may isolate themselves from friends and family, avoiding social situations or neglecting their responsibilities. They may also lose interest in activities they used to enjoy.

Other men might manifest their emotional distress through physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or other unexplained physical discomfort. Mental health issues can also lead to feelings of persistent fatigue, lack of energy, and difficulty getting motivated. Similarly, insomnia or sleeping too much can be indicators of mental health problems in men.

They may struggle to perform at work because mental health challenges can make it hard to focus, make decisions, or concentrate on tasks. Men might even neglect their physical health when struggling with mental health issues, leading to poor self-care and hygiene.

Some men turn to alcohol, drugs, or other substances as a way to cope with their emotions or numb their feelings. As such, substance abuse can often be a sign of underlying mental health struggles.

In severe cases, men experiencing mental health problems might have thoughts of suicide or self-harm. It’s important to take these signs seriously and seek help immediately. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, seeking help from a mental health professional is crucial.

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Common Mental Health Issues in Men: Male Depression

Anxiety disorders are among the most common male mental health disorders. Men may experience different types of anxiety disorders including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, and phobias.

Women are actually twice as likely to struggle with GAD and panic disorder, but the rates of social anxiety and OCD are around the same between men and women.

Anxiety in men often means a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and substance use disorder (SUD).

Symptoms of anxiety in men can include excessive worry, restlessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, as well as physical symptoms like muscle tension, sweating, and trembling.

Men who experience male anxiety may feel conflicted between conforming to these traditional ideals of masculinity and their own personal feelings, emotions, and desires. This conflict can lead to various psychological challenges.

For example, men may feel pressured to suppress their emotions, especially those deemed as “weak” or “feminine,” which can lead to difficulties in expressing and processing feelings. Men who do not fit the stereotypical masculine mold may experience confusion or a sense of identity crisis as they grapple with reconciling their true selves with societal expectations.

Men may also feel a lot of anxiety regarding various areas of life, feeling pressure to meet societal expectations of success when it comes to their career, relationships, and physical appearance.

It’s important to note that male anxiety is a product of societal constructs and norms, and not all men experience it in the same way.

Recognizing and addressing these issues can contribute to healthier notions of masculinity and promote open discussions about emotions, mental health, and personal growth for everyone, regardless of gender.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety or related issues, seeking support from mental health professionals can be beneficial.

Anxiety in Men

Anxiety disorders are among the most common male mental health disorders. Men may experience different types of anxiety disorders including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, and phobias.

Women are actually twice as likely to struggle with GAD and panic disorder, but the rates of social anxiety and OCD are around the same between men and women.

Anxiety in men often means a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and substance use disorder (SUD).

Symptoms of anxiety in men can include excessive worry, restlessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, as well as physical symptoms like muscle tension, sweating, and trembling.

Men who experience male anxiety may feel conflicted between conforming to these traditional ideals of masculinity and their own personal feelings, emotions, and desires. This conflict can lead to various psychological challenges.

For example, men may feel pressured to suppress their emotions, especially those deemed as “weak” or “feminine,” which can lead to difficulties in expressing and processing feelings. Men who do not fit the stereotypical masculine mold may experience confusion or a sense of identity crisis as they grapple with reconciling their true selves with societal expectations.

Men may also feel a lot of anxiety regarding various areas of life, feeling pressure to meet societal expectations of success when it comes to their career, relationships, and physical appearance.

It’s important to note that male anxiety is a product of societal constructs and norms, and not all men experience it in the same way.

Recognizing and addressing these issues can contribute to healthier notions of masculinity and promote open discussions about emotions, mental health, and personal growth for everyone, regardless of gender.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety or related issues, seeking support from mental health professionals can be beneficial.

Bipolar Disorder in Men

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings that include episodes of mania (elevated and euphoric mood) and depression (low mood and feelings of hopelessness).

While it can affect both men and women, there are some differences in how it presents and is experienced in men compared to women. The symptoms of bipolar disorder in men typically manifest between the ages of 15 and 24, affecting about 2.6 percent of the US population.

Bipolar disorder is not as common as other male mental health conditions, but the majority of those who do have it are classified as severe, according to the National Alliance for Mental Illness.

Just like other mental illnesses, bipolar disorder is underdiagnosed in young men. A lot of symptoms are often written off as “normal” young male behavior such as overconfidence, reckless behavior, irritability, and social withdrawal.

Because men tend to cycle between manic and depressive phases less frequently, bipolar disorder is harder to recognize. This is why bipolar disorder in men can sometimes be misdiagnosed or overlooked, as the symptoms may not always match the stereotypical presentation of the disorder.

Men with bipolar disorder may have a higher likelihood of engaging in substance abuse as a way to cope with their symptoms. This can complicate diagnosis and treatment, as substance abuse can mask or exacerbate the underlying mood disorder.

Substance Abuse Disorder in Men

According to data from a Monitoring the Future survey, young men are generally more likely than women to abuse drugs like prescription painkillers, hallucinogens, and marijuana. They are also more likely to binge drink.

Unfortunately, society also views problematic substance abuse as socially acceptable for young men. It’s even considered masculine and therefore less frequently viewed as a symptom of mental illness. This attitude towards substance abuse puts young men at higher risk of substance abuse, which may develop into a full-blown addiction or drug dependence.

Substance use disorders (SUDs) refer to a range of conditions where an individual engages in the excessive and harmful use of psychoactive substances such as alcohol, drugs, or medications.

It is worth noting that the gap between men and women in terms of SUD prevalence has been narrowing over the years. However, this does not mean that fewer men are engaging in substance abuse but rather more women are engaging in drug and alcohol abuse.

The development of SUDs in men can be influenced by various factors, including genetic predisposition, environmental stressors, trauma, peer pressure, and societal expectations. Men may be more prone to using substances as a way to cope with emotional or psychological distress, which can contribute to the development of an addiction.

Just like with mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, men may hesitate to seek treatment for their addiction because they view it as admitting vulnerability or weakness. This can delay the treatment process and hinder their recovery.

SUDs in men often co-occur with other mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or antisocial behavior. These disorders can complicate the treatment process, requiring a comprehensive approach that addresses both substance use and mental health at the same time. When a person has both a mental health problem and a substance use disorder, it is called a dual diagnosis. There are treatment centers that specialize in dual diagnosis treatment.

In recent years, there has been increased awareness of the need to address gender-specific issues in substance use disorder treatment. Healthcare providers and mental health professionals are working to create more inclusive and tailored treatment programs that consider the unique challenges faced by men and women with SUDs.

PTSD in Men

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is another common mental health issue for men. PTSD isn’t just something that military veterans suffer from. Anyone who experiences a traumatic event can develop PTSD. This can include an accident, combat, physical assault, or witnessing death or injury.

Research indicates that women are generally more likely to experience PTSD than men. This is partly because women are more likely to experience certain types of trauma, such as sexual assault. However, when men do experience trauma, they can still develop PTSD.

Around 60 percent of men experience at least one traumatic event in their lives. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) says over two-thirds of adolescents have experienced a traumatic event. Those events can have a long-term impact on a person’s mental health, especially for young adults.

Following a traumatic event, people with PTSD may experience symptoms that can interfere with their daily life and functioning.

Common symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, dissociative reactions, nightmares, distressing memories, intense psychological distress, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, hypervigilance, self-destructive behavior, and a persistent negative emotional state including fear, shame, guilt, or anger.

These symptoms may vary in intensity and duration. It’s important to note that not everyone who experiences trauma will develop PTSD, and the severity and combination of symptoms can differ from person to person.

However, men might be more likely to report physical symptoms related to PTSD, such as headaches, gastrointestinal issues, and chest pain. This could be related to the way they internalize distress.

Men with PTSD might display symptoms that are more externalized, such as increased irritability, anger, and aggressive behavior. This can be a coping mechanism or a way to mask underlying emotional distress.

Other men who have PTSD engage in avoidance behaviors, which can include avoiding situations, thoughts, or emotions that remind them of the traumatic event. They would isolate themselves instead of expressing vulnerability around other people and seeking help.

PTSD can put someone at risk of substance abuse as a form of self-medication. But as usual, this can only make the symptoms of PTSD worse, creating a cycle of substance abuse and negative coping strategies.

Effective treatments for PTSD, such as therapy (including cognitive-behavioral therapy) and medications, are equally applicable to both men and women. Creating an environment that encourages men to seek help and express their emotions can be crucial in their recovery process.

Why Do Men Have a Higher Risk of Suicide?

While depression is more commonly diagnosed in women, men might exhibit different symptoms such as increased irritability, anger, and suicidal thoughts.

Men are more likely to die by suicide, and one of the reasons is because of their tendency to use more lethal methods. That said, it is an incredibly complex issue that comes from a combination of biological, psychological, social, and cultural factors. It’s usually a combination of these factors and not just one thing.

So while people of any gender may struggle with suicidal thoughts, there are trends that contribute to a higher suicide rate among men.

Societal norms and expectations about masculinity can influence how men express their emotions. Men are often socialized to be stoic and self-reliant. This makes them less likely to openly talk about their emotional struggles. It can also make men reluctant to seek professional help when needed.

Men may also be more prone to using avoidant or aggressive coping strategies, which only exacerbate their feelings of hopelessness and isolation. They might turn to substance abuse or engage in risky behaviors as maladaptive ways of dealing with stress.

There are also economic factors at play. Economic pressures, job instability, and the perception of being the primary breadwinner can contribute to stress and feelings of failure in men. These factors can impact their mental health and increase their risk of suicide.

Marital and relationship problems can also affect men’s mental health significantly. Divorce or relationship breakdowns can lead to feelings of loss, isolation, and hopelessness.

A lack of strong social connections or a support network can amplify their feelings of isolation and despair. Men might experience social isolation due to their reluctance to share their feelings or difficulties. This isolation can exacerbate mental health issues and prevent them from seeking support.

When men do gather with their friends to talk openly about their problems, it usually involves alcohol or addictive substances.

Addressing the issue of higher suicide risk among men requires a comprehensive approach involving mental health awareness campaigns, reducing stigma around help-seeking, promoting healthy communication and coping skills, and providing accessible and appropriate mental health services.

It’s important to recognize that anyone, regardless of gender, can be at risk of suicide, and efforts should be made to support individuals in need.

Mental Health Treatment Options for Men

Treatment options for men’s mental health are similar to those for anyone experiencing mental health issues. However, treatment should keep in consideration the unique challenges and societal pressures men face on a daily basis.

It’s crucial to let them understand that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Here are some treatment options that can be effective for men’s mental health:

Therapy/Counseling: Individual therapy with a licensed mental health professional, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, or social worker, can provide a safe space to explore and work through emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and mindfulness-based therapy are examples of therapeutic approaches that can be beneficial.

Gender-Informed Therapy: Some men may benefit from therapy that specifically addresses societal expectations and pressures related to masculinity and gender roles.

Support Groups: Men-specific support groups or general mental health support groups can offer a sense of belonging and understanding. Sharing experiences and hearing from others who are going through similar challenges can be very comforting.

Medication: In some cases, medication prescribed by a psychiatrist may be necessary, especially for conditions like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. Medication can help manage symptoms, but it’s often combined with therapy for more comprehensive treatment.

Mindfulness and Meditation: Practicing mindfulness and meditation techniques can help manage stress, anxiety, and depression. These practices encourage being present in the moment and cultivating self-awareness.

Remember that treatment needs may vary based on the individual person and their specific mental health condition.

It’s essential to consult with a mental health professional to determine the most appropriate treatment plan. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, look for a rehab facility near you today.

Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.

 

 

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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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