In 2023, more than 48,000 women lost their lives to suicide in India. However, the number of incidents for men was even higher, surpassing 122,000. Mental health is the root cause of suicides in these individuals. The rate of deaths by suicide or mental health issues is higher in men than women due to many reasons. Such as societal expectations, reluctance to talk, or social norms. Also, most of the men tend to downplay their symptoms.
Consequently, the majority of men suffer silently and men’s mental health tends to be swept under the rug. So, to protect men’s mental health, it’s crucial to break down stereotypes linked to masculinity. We need to break the silence and work towards a world where men can speak openly about their mental health without fear of judgement or stigma.
But how do we get to know who is suffering from mental health issues because most men tend to hide their emotions?
Here are some warning signs indicating mental health issues. So you can look out for signs of needing mental health help.
Before that, let’s see what we will discuss in this blog:
- Factors affecting men’s mental health
- How stigma affects mental health
- Common men’s mental health struggles
- Which men are more at risk of mental health issues
- Treatment of men’s mental health issues
Warning Signs of Mental Health in Men
- Heightened aggressiveness, anger, and irritability
- Fluctuations in mood or energy levels
- Changes in appetite or sleeping patterns
- Difficulty maintaining focus
- Restlessness or a constant feeling of being “on edge”
- Increased alcohol consumption
- Inappropriate use of substances
- Engagement in risky activities
- Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, numbness, or emotional flatness
- Unexplained physical symptoms such as aches or pains
- Obsessive or compulsive thoughts or behaviours
- Thoughts or actions causing concern to others or negatively impacting work, social, or family life
- Contemplating or attempting suicide
If an individual observes these symptoms in themselves or a loved one, medical help is advisable.
Some factors can cause these symptoms and become the root cause of mental health issues.
Let’s take a look into those factors.
Various Factors Affecting men’s mental health
Men’s challenges often arise from societal expectations and traditional gender roles. For instance, some men may feel pressured to be the primary breadwinners, display “masculine” traits like strength, rely on themselves without seeking help, and avoid talking openly about their emotions.
Holding onto these beliefs can harm men’s mental health and prevent them from getting the support they need.
Let’s see how these social and self-stigma affect mental health.
How the Male Mental Health Stigma Affects Treatment?
Many men avoid asking for help when it comes to their mental health; They choose to handle issues on their own. It can lead to severe problems like risky behaviour, addiction, or even thoughts of suicide.
Also, a study by the National Institutes of Health found that men are much less likely than women to seek help for mental health concerns. The study pointed out reasons such as the unique challenges men face, societal expectations, and the stigma around mental health.
So, understanding why men are hesitant to seek help is important. By spreading awareness about men’s mental health, families and individuals can help men identify the root causes of their problems. It also increases the chances of supporting a loved one through difficult times.
Besides, some major mental disorders affect men.
Common Mental Health Struggles in Men
Men may experience several disorders but the following are the most common mental health issues.
Men can face various mental health challenges. Depression is a prevalent issue among them. Despite any mental health disorder being possible for men, depression stands out as the most common condition globally. Even though women are twice as likely to experience depression, men often refrain from seeking help.
Depression is characterized by a persistent low mood that disrupts daily life, and its symptoms are similar in both men and women.
These symptoms encompass feelings of:
- Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
- Changes in weight, appetite
- Sleep patterns
- Trouble concentrating
When men grapple with depression, they may show behavioural changes, such as an increase in using drugs or alcohol, compared to women.
Initial signs of depression in men may involve,
- Angry outbursts
- Avoidance of family and social gatherings
- Difficulty managing responsibilities, workaholic tendencies
- Controlling and abusive behaviour, and
- Engaging in risky activities like gambling, unsafe sex, or driving under the influence,
- Suicide attempts.
Depression can also impact a man’s sex drive and can cause a loss of interest and difficulties in performance. In essence, depression in men encompasses both emotional and behavioural alterations. It may go unnoticed due to societal expectations and a reluctance to seek treatment.
Anxiety disorders involve intense and uncontrollable feelings of worry and fear. The most common one for men is generalized anxiety disorder. Anxiety is often seen alongside depression.
There are also other anxiety issues like social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. While both men and women can experience anxiety, men are less likely to seek help for it.
Schizophrenia is a severe mental health condition. It causes individuals to disconnect from reality. Those with schizophrenia undergo delusions, hallucinations, and disordered thinking. As per the data, 90 per cent of individuals are diagnosed with schizophrenia by the age of 30.
Which Men Are More at Risk for Mental Health Disorders?
Certain groups of men may have higher chances of mental health disorders.
Men who have been to war or faced trauma are likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Men with stressful jobs or poor working conditions are more prone to mental health issues. Also, being unemployed or retired increases the risk of depression and suicide.
Divorce and Relationship Status
Males going through divorce often struggle with severe depression, and being single can be a trigger for suicide.
Stigma and Financial Strain
The stigma around men’s mental health, along with financial and legal problems, can lead to issues like depression and anxiety. Additionally, struggling to provide for the family financially also raises the risk of suicide.
Men often become aware of mental health concerns through family members dealing with conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
Those who face challenging life situations, such as illness, family conflicts, or the loss of a family member, are more likely to experience mental health disorders and consider suicide.
Mental health for children
Treatment for Men’s Mental Health
Even though some men might hesitate to get help for mental health issues, seeking treatment is crucial for recovery. With the right treatment, people can learn how to manage their symptoms and start feeling better.
Some treatment options include:
Doctors may prescribe medication to address different mental health conditions or symptoms linked to those disorders.
For instance, they might prescribe:
- anti-anxiety medications
- antipsychotic drugs
- sleep aids
Usually, physicians will suggest using medications alongside psychotherapy.
Talking to a therapist can help men with mental health issues. It allows them to work through problems, manage symptoms, change negative thoughts and behaviours, and learn new coping skills.
There are different types of therapy, so it’s important to find the right therapist and approach that works for you.
Adopting positive changes in your lifestyle can greatly contribute to your mental well-being.
For instance, it’s crucial to:
- Maintain a balanced diet.
- Ensure adequate sleep.
- Engage in regular exercise.
- Handle stress through practices like meditation or yoga.
- Limit or refrain from the use of alcohol and drugs.
Talking and sharing with other individuals who understand what you’re going through in a peer support group can really help improve mental health. It gives you a place to discuss feelings, get advice, and feel less alone.
This support helps men manage their mental well-being better and builds connections with others who have similar experiences.
While it’s not guaranteed to prevent mental health conditions, taking certain steps may lower the risk:
- Stay connected with family and friends, particularly during stressful times.
- Seek treatment promptly if any signs of poor mental health arise.
- Maintain treatment to prevent the recurrence of conditions like depression.
- Learn stress management through methods like meditation or mindfulness.
- Make positive lifestyle choices, including a balanced diet, sufficient sleep, and regular exercise.
- Consult a therapist for concerns like low self-esteem or childhood trauma that might cause mental health issues later on.
Talking about men’s mental health is the first step toward making things better. We should support each other, break down stereotypes, and create a world where guys feel okay to share their feelings.
Let’s keep spreading awareness and make it normal for men to seek help when they need it. Also, it’s a team effort to build a caring community, where everyone’s mental well-being is important.