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Mental Health and Men

Mental Health and MenAnybody can fall victim to mental ill health, and there are many forms of mental illnesses that affect both men and women. Even though most people especially in this part of the world may be slow to admit that they may have some sort of mental health problems, yet it is a social reality we are living with. It is especially so for men who due to socio-cultural expectations or demands, are less likely to talk about their feelings and also look for help where necessary. As a result experts say “men are scared to admit that they’re depressed.”

In getting solutions however, acknowledging that there is a problem and noting the signs that may signify that someone has a mood or mental turmoil, is a basic and foremost step to take towards getting help or treatment, and living a better life.

Signs to look out for

Both men and women virtually go through the same experiences in terms of mental disorders; the problems have mostly been that of reluctance to admit that there is a problem, and even to discuss the feelings they may be going through. Experts say the willingness to discuss the issues which vary from men to women equally explains the reasons for their symptoms also appearing different.

Take for instance whereby some men suffering from depression or some form of anxiety would usually choose to hide their emotions and rather exhibit anger or put up an aggressive mood. Conversely, the women folks will easily express theirs in the form of sadness. Again, some men will rather take to drugs or alcohol as they try to deal with their emotional problems. Yet, this never gets any problems solved; men then ought to be more open in matters like this.

But “men are taught to be tough, independent and in control. Societal pressure makes it very difficult for men to admit they need help because they’re afraid of being looked down upon,” according to Dr. Thoraiya Kanafani, clinical psychologist and expert in mental health. She emphasises that there has always been an under-reporting of male depression.

“Men are socialised to believe that they need to suppress their emotional responses. … They use words like ‘I’m so weak’ and ‘I’m not strong enough’, rather than look at it from the reality that depression is a mental health disorder and you can’t blame a person for it. Also, a lot of cases aren’t diagnosed because of a bias. It’s much easier for male doctors to diagnose men with stress but not with depression,” Kanafani says.

But some mental health issues may tend to look like physical problems when they are not. Sometimes a mental health case could be the cause of a racing heart, tightening chest, persistent headaches, as well as digestive problems. Experts say all these can be symptoms of an emotional crisis lurking.

The followings are warning signs you should watch out for, and do not hesitate to act on them when they manifest:

 Anger, irritability or aggressiveness

 Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite

 Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much

 Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge

 Increased worry or feeling stressed

 A need for alcohol or drugs

 Sadness or hopelessness

 Suicidal thoughts

 Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions

 Engaging in high-risk activities

 Ongoing headaches, digestive issues, or pain

 Obsessive thinking or compulsive behaviour

 Thoughts or behaviours that interfere with work, family, or social life

 Unusual thinking or behaviours that concern other people


Sammy Adaba

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