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November is Men's Mental Health Month

It is true that mental illnesses are common among both men and women, but men are more likely to suffer from them than women. Men also typically receive fewer mental health treatments than women. It is, however, more common for men to commit suicide than women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Recognizing the signs of mental disorders is the first step toward getting treatment. Treatment that begins early has a higher chance of being effective.

Fast Facts About Men and Mental Health

Why Do Men Avoid Seeking Help for Mental Health Concerns?

Early on, men are taught that expressing their feelings is contrary to their masculine identity. The image of being strong and stoic could be tarnished if they do so. In particular, men are told they will lose their masculinity if they cry in front of others.

Mental health is no different. The number of women diagnosed with depression or anxiety is higher statistically. It is important to note, however, that men are also affected by mental illness and mental distress.

At some point during their lives, over 30% of men will suffer from depression, and about 9% report feeling depressed or anxious every day.

The fact that men are taught to hide their emotions doesn't mean they don't have any. Researchers have found that men are just as likely to experience emotions as women. It may seem that men don't feel sad because it's socially unacceptable for them to cry when they're sad.

As a matter of fact, men who experience sadness or grief tend to channel those feelings into more socially acceptable emotions. As an example, an angry man might act aggressively if he is sad or depressed, rather than crying over something small.

Even when the underlying emotion fueling the behavior is different, dominance and strength are viewed as more masculine emotions. As a result, when men are told to hide their feelings at all costs, those feelings have to be stored somewhere else. In order to compensate, they often act in a stereotypically masculine manner.

In order to overcome this barrier, searching for help online can provide anonymity and a sense of self-direction that doesn't conflict with the masculine sense of self. CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) may be particularly suitable for men as it focuses on current issues and offers specific techniques and tools for solving them.

Warning Signs

It is possible for men and women to develop most of the same mental disorders and conditions, but the symptoms may vary. Symptoms may include:

  • A feeling of anger, irritability, or aggression.

  • An increase or decrease in energy level, mood, or appetite.

  • Oversleeping or difficulty sleeping.

  • Feeling restless, unable to concentrate, or on edge.

  • Feeling stressed or worried more often.

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness.

  • Having a difficult time feeling positive or having a flat mood.

  • Thoughts of suicide. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

  • Unknown causes of aches, headaches, and digestive problems.

  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse.

  • Taking part in high-risk activities.

  • Compulsive behavior or obsessive thinking.

  • Disrupting work, family, or social life with thoughts or behaviors.

  • Thinking or acting in an unusual way that concerns others.

Men, Increase Your Mental Health Awareness

The month of November is National Men's Health Awareness Month, which is marked by events like Movember and No-Shave November. It is specifically during this month that we raise awareness and support for those suffering from prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health issues.

Men’s Mental Health

This November, men can prioritize their mental health by doing the following:

  • Build social connections. “We’re all social beings,” says Siraj Abdullah, D.O., a Piedmont family medicine physician. “It’s important to have a good social support group, whether that’s your family or your friends. Look for people who are positive, have an open mind, and are supportive.”

  • Get out and get active. Inactive men are 60% more likely than active men to suffer from depression, according to Men's Health Week. It has been shown that even 10- to 20-minute walks can help you improve your emotional wellbeing. Try walking the dog more often, taking the kids to the park at the weekend, or dusting off those sneakers for a lunchtime jog.

  • Meditate. Research from Cognitive Therapy and Research indicates that mindfulness and stress reduction techniques can kill or significantly reduce depression-causing ruminative thinking.

  • Pursue a passion. When people are focused on family, work, and other aspects of life, they can feel like they have no time for their hobbies or passions. However, when you are overburdened with a busy schedule, these outlets can help you cope with stress and give your mind a chance to refocus.

  • Nourish your body. Try to eat as many fresh, whole foods as you can. There are many healthy fats and proteins to choose from, as well as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Alcohol, sugar, processed food, and refined carbohydrates should be limited.

  • Take charge of your finances. One of the biggest causes of stress is debt. Many men feel that they are responsible for providing financial security for their families. If you are having trouble managing your money, a financial counselor can help you take control of your debt and devise a plan to help you recover.

  • Understand that it's OK to seek help. The stigma associated with mental health is still prevalent, particularly among men. Mental health issues that contribute to suicide are often overlooked by men. You don't need to suffer alone. Whether it's your partner, friend, support group, or coworker, talk to them. Counselors or psychologists can help if you don't feel comfortable talking to loved ones about it.

Men’s Physical Health

Taking preventive measures. Here are some health checks that could save a life:

  • A primary care provider should examine you annually and check your blood pressure, height, and weight

  • Self-exams should be performed monthly in order to detect testicular cancer on an annual basis

  • Every five years, get your cholesterol checked

  • Check for diabetes, thyroid disease, liver problems, and anemia.

No-Shave November and Movember

Movember and No-Shave November are movements that promote cancer awareness among men. For 30 days, participants are encouraged to lay down their trimmers and donate their monthly hair-maintenance expenses. One way to demonstrate empathy and support is to grow mustaches, beards, and full heads of hair while raising awareness for cancer patients.

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