Men don’t feel emotional pain. Or so we have been taught. The reality is men can get depressed, anxious, and suicidal. Mental illness in men is an alarming issue and we need to pay more attention to the signs of mental health issues in men during this men’s mental health month.
Mental illness in men
Men’s mental health issues are a public health concern that affects millions of men across the globe, yet it is a silent epidemic that is desperately begging for attention. Adult men, especially men in their 50s, suffer from a range of mental disorders but they choose to stay silent. As men, our self-esteem and sense of self-worth is closely tied to what society considers to be a success –
- Career accomplishments
- Financial security
- Social reputation
- Ability to provide for the family
But no one talks about the sacrifices men make to pursue these goals, how competitive it can be for them, and the toll it takes on their mental health. When ordinary, hard-working, decent men fail to achieve the impossibly high standards of masculinity and success established by our society, they are shamed and looked down upon. This failure can lead to signs of mental health issues in men.
One 2022 study explains “Too often many men do not talk about feeling down, sad, or depressed, and might not mention emotional or behavioural difficulties at all.” However, even when they do express their problems, it is not focused on their emotions, rather on “functional problems”, like performance at work. This is why we need to pay more attention to recognizing men’s mental health symptoms and encourage them to seek medical help.
Warning signs of mental health issues in men
Although both men and women can suffer from the same psychiatric disorders, signs of mental health issues in a man can vary greatly from that of a woman. The 5 major warning signs of mental health issues in men are –
1. Dramatic changes in mood
A man suffering from some form of mental illness is likely to experience extremely high and/or low moods accompanied by high and/or low levels of energy. Such extreme changes in mood is common for most mental conditions.
2. High levels of anxiety
When a man is coping with mental illness, they will probably experience excessive anxiety, worry and fear. Coupled with overthinking and intrusive thoughts, paranoia is also widely experienced by men suffering from mental disorders.
3. Persistent sadness
One of the most common signs of mental health issues in men is long-lasting feelings of sadness. Often associated with depression and related conditions, feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, emptiness, and irritability can be frequently experienced.
4. Changes in appetite and/or sleep
Men coping with mental illness often experienced dramatic changes in their appetite, either eating less or more than they previously used to. They may also experience drastic changes in their sleeping patterns or have trouble sleeping as well.
5. Social withdrawal
Social isolation and withdrawal are among the most widely observed signs of mental health issues in men. They may avoid socializing or interacting with others, become increasingly shy and withdrawn and may even isolate themselves, avoiding contact even with loved ones.
Other signs of mental health issues in men
Apart from these, there are several signs of mental health issues in a man that you may need to look out for. Some of them are mentioned below –
- High levels of stress
- Aggressiveness or uncontrollable anger
- Trouble concentrating or being easily distracted
- Intrusive or obsessive thoughts
- Lack of interest in life
- Inability to experience positive emotions
- Fatigue or exhaustion
- Physical symptoms like body aches, headaches, digestive issues, etc for no apparent causes
- Feelings of guilt, inadequacy or worthlessness
- Compulsive or obsessive behaviors
- Delusions and/or hallucinations
- Feeling restless or on edge
- Talking too much or too fast
- Risky or reckless behavior like gambling, spending spree, or unsafe sex
- Drugs or alcohol abuse
- Self-harm or suicidal ideation