We’ve all heard that real men don’t cry, but that simple mantra is indicative of a widespread, toxic misconception about men and mental health. As a result, men who do speak up about their mental health needs and display their emotions more readily are often dismissed as weak or otherwise flawed. The reality is that everyone experiences stress, sadness, grief, and other potential triggers for mental health concerns. In addition, many men are directly affected by mental illness. Both depression and anxiety disorders are prevalent in male populations, and most people who are diagnosed schizophrenic before age 30 are men.
As Father’s Day approaches and healthcare organizations around the country prepare to recognize National Men’s Health Week, take a moment to think about the facts when it comes to men and their mental and emotional health.
A significant number of men are affected by mental illness.
Because men are widely discouraged from openly discussing their health and wellness—especially their mental health—many men believe they are suffering alone with their issues. However, 6 million men in the U.S. are affected by depression each year. In addition, suicide has increased to become the 7th leading cause of death among American males. Men are also commonly affected by bipolar disorder, clinical anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. If you notice any of the following changes in yourself or in a loved one, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
- Loss of interest in hobbies and other activities.
- Mood swings.
- Misuse of drugs or alcohol.
- Engaging in high-risk activities.
- Recurring feelings of sadness, loneliness, or guilt.
- Repetitive negative thoughts, thoughts of suicide.
- Declining performance at work or school.
- Symptoms of physical illness without a clear cause.
- Changes in energy level or sleep habits.
- Lack of focus, difficulty concentrating.
The above list is not exhaustive. If you are having trouble coping with daily life or you notice mood and behavioral symptoms getting in the way of your daily routine, it’s time to ask your doctor about your mental health resources.
Men are often hesitant to seek mental healthcare.
Another common roadblock for men in need of mental healthcare is limited knowledge of healthcare resources. If you don’t know where to turn, a good place to start is by talking to your primary care physician about your symptoms. If you don’t have a dedicated primary care physician, you can set up a men’s health appointment online with MeMD.
There are many options for addressing mental illness. While medication may be beneficial or even necessary for some conditions, other concerns like depression and anxiety are often treated successfully with a combination of talk therapy and lifestyle changes. In fact, studies have indicated that exercise can be as effective in improving depression symptoms as prescription anti-depressants.
Mental health is directly tied to physical health.
Your mental health doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Mental health feeds into your physical health and vice versa. For example, did you know that suffering from clinical depression can increase the risk of developing coronary artery disease by up to 64%? With heart disease already topping the list of causes of death among American men, it’s essential to consider the relationship between your mental health and your physical health. In addition, mental illnesses can cause various physical symptoms. Mental health symptoms may also be caused by underlying physical health disorders. That’s why it’s important to not only address those symptoms as they arise but also attend regular physical health screenings. Here’s a look at the health screenings adult men should regularly have.
- Annual physical – including blood tests to screen for cholesterol, blood sugar, and thyroid hormones.
- STD testing – talk to your primary care physician to determine the appropriate testing frequency and test types for your needs.
- Blood pressure – check frequently including when you visit your doctor for a regular physical.
- Colonoscopy – schedule a screening once every 10 years after age 50, or sooner as directed by your physician.
- PSA screening – prostate cancer screening, talk to your doctor for individual screening recommendations based on your health history.
In both general wellness and mental health, men tend to undercut their healthcare needs and fail to see the doctor as often as they should. MeMD makes it easier to stay on top of your health with care that’s available at the click of a button. With talk therapy through MeMD, you can connect with a mental health professional in as little as 24 hours and attend your visit from the comfort and privacy of home. Our men’s health services help you to see a doctor for common men’s health concerns without the inconvenience or stigma of an in-person visit.