Mental illness affects both men and women, though men may have a more difficult time talking about the way they are feeling. Long-standing gender stereotypes may hinder men from truly opening up and discussing any issues they may be grappling with, seeing as they believe doing so might compromise their masculinity. In American society, men are typically raised to put on a brave face regardless of how they are feeling inside. For this reason, although men and women may experience the same mental disorder, women may be more willing to discuss symptoms than men. Men may also attempt to hide their symptoms, causing them to manifest differently. For example, a man battling severe depression may attempt to stifle his emotions, and may thus come across as angry or aggressive. A woman suffering from depression, on the other hand, will typically express sadness. Men are also exceedingly more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of self-medication.
Despite apparent differences in the way men and women cope with mental illness, recognizing the signs and symptoms of potential mental disorders is the first step towards undergoing treatment and living a happier, more fulfilled life. Once a man accepts the fact that he is dealing with a disorder beyond his control and becomes willing to seek professional help, he opens the door to a contented and unrestricted life – one he likely never deemed himself possible of living. If you or someone you know and love is struggling with a mental disorder (or seems to be exhibiting potential warning signs and symptoms), it is crucial to seek a professional psychiatric evaluation as soon as possible.
Warning Signs of Mental Illness
- Aggressiveness, anger, or irritability
- Noticeable changes in appetite and sleep patterns
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling on-edge or restless
- Feeling sad or hopeless
- Experienced an increased sense of worry/stress
- Turning to drugs and/or alcohol more frequently
- Engaging in high-risk activities
- Feeling numb
- Obsessive thinking and compulsive behavior
- Entertaining thoughts or behaviors that interfere with work, school, or interpersonal relationships
- Expressing unusual thinking patterns that may concern other people
- Ongoing and inexplicable headaches, pains, or digestive issues
Some of the mental illnesses that most commonly affect men are PTSD, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, autism spectrum disorder, eating disorders, substance abuse disorders, and behavioral addictions – all of which we at Next Chapter treat as primary disorders.
Mental Health Treatment for Men
Despite the fact that both men and women are affected by mental illness, there are certain disorders that tend to affect the male population at far greater rates. As previously mentioned, men have a greater propensity to turn towards drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with uncomfortable emotions. On average, substance abuse affects men three times more frequently than it affects women – occurring at a rate of 3 to 1. Research suggests that men engage in substance abuse when they are going through emotionally strenuous transitions, such as unemployment or divorce. It is currently estimated that over 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Many separated men report undergoing immense emotional upset during family court and custody battles, and it is estimated that only 1 in 6 divorced men have custody of their children. Most have harshly limited visitation rights, and this loss in and of itself can leave men isolated – feeling alienated from the rest of society.
For this reason, the matter of mental health amongst members of the male population should be recognized and treated as a social issue just as much as a health issue. Special attention should be paid to emotionally disruptive experiences and circumstances such as divorce and the disruption of the familial unit. Because the needs of men are so unique, it is also important that male-specific treatment is available – recovery options that are tailored to meet needs specific to men. We at Next Chapter specialize in treating men who have long-since struggled with mental health disorders, and we have developed a program of recovery that is both comprehensive and exclusive. If you believe that you (or someone close to you) is struggling with a mental health disorder, please feel free to reach out to us today for more information. We look forward to speaking with you soon.