According to Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, the stigma associated with mental health prevents many men from seeking help when they most need it — and it’s killing them.
With November being Men’s Health Awareness Month, Affinity Health discusses common male mental health disorders and why men tend to minimise their mental health symptoms, deny what they’re going through, and are hesitant to seek help.
“While both men and women are affected by mental illnesses, the prevalence of mental illnesses in men is often undiagnosed,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.
“Recognising the symptoms of a mental disorder in yourself or someone you care about is the first step toward treatment. The earlier treatment is started, the more effective it can be.”
How Mental Health Issues Manifest In Men
Men are less likely than women to open up about their emotional struggles, such as feelings of sadness, worthlessness, or hopelessness. Instead, male mental health issues frequently manifest as symptoms such as:
- Violence and aggression
- High-risk pursuits
- Abuse of substances
- Suicidal thoughts
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Physical problems, such as persistent headaches or stomachaches
- Restlessness and difficulty concentrating
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Obsessive thoughts
As a result, mental health issues in men are frequently misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, implying that far more men are suffering than statistics indicate.
Common Male Mental Health Disorders
Did you know that mental health disorders can manifest differently in men and women? Read on to learn about the five most common male mental health disorders.
Depression is one of the most serious mental health problems in men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5.5 percent of adult males suffer from depression. However, while male depression is diagnosed less frequently than female depression, many men have depression that their doctor does not recognise because their symptoms are less typical of major depressive disorder.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, men are 3.7 times more likely to die by suicidebecause men who attempt suicide use more lethal methods, particularly firearms. Furthermore, young men are particularly vulnerable because they attempt suicide at a higher rate than any other age group.
Another common male mental health disorder is anxiety. Anxiety disorders in men can be classified as follows:
- Anxiety disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Syndrome (OCD)
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Anxiety about social situations
3. Addiction to Substances
According to the most recent Monitoring the Future survey of young adults, young men are more likely than young women to abuse drugs such as marijuana, hallucinogens, and prescription painkillers.
Furthermore, men are nearly twice as likely as women to binge drink and have consistently higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalisations. Because problematic drinking and other male substance abuse are socially acceptable and even considered “masculine,” they are less frequently recognised as a symptom of a male mental health condition.
4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is another common mental health problem in men. Furthermore, PTSD is not limited to military veterans. Approximately 60% of men have experienced at least one traumatic event, usually related to an accident, physical assault, combat, or witnessing death or injury.
Men can experience PTSD symptoms that interfere with their daily life and functioning for weeks, months or even years after experiencing trauma. While PTSD diagnoses are more common in women than men, experts believe this is due to men’s conditioning to suffer in silence or to ignore physical or behavioural issues that may be symptoms of PTSD.
5. Bipolar Illness
Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is characterised by extreme mood and activity fluctuations. Bipolar disorder symptoms typically appear in males between the ages of 15 and 24. While bipolar disorder in young men isn’t as common as other male mental health conditions, the National Alliance for Mental Illness reports that the vast majority of cases (83 percent) are classified as severe.
Bipolar disorder, like other common mental health disorders, is underdiagnosed in young men. Symptoms can be dismissed as “normal” immature male behaviour. Overconfidence and reckless behaviour, for example, may be symptoms of the manic phase of bipolar disorder. At the same time, irritability and social withdrawal may be symptoms of the depressive phase. Furthermore, studies show that men have less frequent cycling between phases, making bipolar disorder in men more difficult to detect.
What Treatment Options Are Available?
“We must pay more attention to mental health and do a better job supporting those suffering from mental health issues,” says Hewlett.
“Consult your primary care provider or a mental health professional if you have any signs or symptoms of a mental illness. Most mental illnesses do not improve on their own, and if left untreated, they can worsen over time and cause serious problems.”