Researchers estimate that at least 6 million men suffer from depression each year in the United States. While this number is larger in women, men are almost four times more likely to suffer the ultimate consequence of their depression: suicide. Even though women attempt more suicides each year, men are more successful, in part because the methods employed by men are more lethal.
Sadly, the above statistics make one point clear: Depression in men is different from women. The question is why?
Looking back to those barriers introduced above, similarities are seen when it comes to depression. Men are simply not seeking proper treatment. The issue is confounded because men’s depressive symptoms are not being readily recognized by physicians and by men themselves. Men are more willing to acknowledge physical symptoms — fatigue, headaches, irritability, loss of interest in work, lowered sexual drive, and sleep disturbances — rather than emotional feelings of sadness, worthlessness, hopelessness, and excessive guilt. It is these physical symptoms, and other signs such as alcohol or drug dependence, that require greater recognition by men as possibly pointing toward an underlying illness of depression.
If you are among the millions of men being plagued by the symptoms described above, it is important to seek help promptly, and there are numerous resources readily available online. While the cause of your depression may not be immediately clear, on account of the numerous factors at potential blame — specific distressing life events, biochemical imbalances in the brain or certain psychological factors — what is clear is that you’re not alone and should never feel ashamed. Depression is common, and most cases are entirely treatable.
Fertility And Fatherhood
Social and economic changes have affected the family structure and have redefined the role of men within the home, hence impacting mental health for men. With the increasing independence of women, men have seen greater responsibility in contributing to housework and child-rearing. The result is an increase in associated mental illnesses. But before one can even consider the prospects of fatherhood, one must first consider the prospects of conception.
Infertility in both men and women is no small concern, as it can be an important cause of stress and can significantly affect partner relationships. Generally, younger couples (30 to 35 years and younger) should commit to at least one year of well-timed intercourse before even thinking about fertility testing. If you are considering testing, however, be advised that because infertility has numerous causes — some environmental, some from medication or infection — testing and subsequent treatment can be extremely difficult, excessively expensive and even traumatic.
Instead, increasing your infertility awareness and committing to prevention well ahead of planning pregnancy can really take a load off your mind. General prevention techniques include limiting tobacco and alcohol, limiting the number of sex partners and wearing a condom to prevent STDs, and maintaining ideal body weight to prevent hormonal balances. Men diagnosed with cancer should also consider saving sperm prior to cancer treatment.
If conception is successful, as a male, you aren’t out of the woods just yet. Pregnancy-related health concerns specific to men are now becoming apparent. Perinatal (during pregnancy) research indicates that men undergo significant stress during the first three months of pregnancy, with only minimal resolve for the months thereafter. A major contributor to this stress for men is a decline in sexual function, a decline that often fails to return to pre-pregnancy levels even up to a year after the pregnancy is completed — a prospect that men fail to anticipate. Further studies have shown that men are also significantly affected by postpartum (after pregnancy) depression more so than previously thought. Depression in new fathers may take the form of isolation. And such isolation can have a negative impact on a child’s development as children may consequently receive less attention and less stimulating interaction.
Two powerful words with powerful implications: sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is not necessarily physical, and can include any non-consensual act of sexual coercion and/or domination that threatens the physical and/or psychological well-being of an individual. While most men are well aware of the issues surrounding sexual abuse, once again, the majority of this awareness is focused on women. The scary fact is that sexual abuse is also largely prevalent in males with some conservative estimates suggesting that one in six males has been sexually abused before age 16. While exact statistics are difficult to confirm, a valid point remains: Sexual abuse in males is a problem — and it can lead to serious mental complications.
The extent to which sexual abuse affects an individual is dependent on a variety of factors: the age of the victim, who committed the abuse, whether or not violence was involved, and how long the abuse went on. The psychological effects, however, are even more diverse and can thus manifest in a number of different ways.
Men who are sexually abused often experience problems with gender and sexuality. Feelings of masculine inadequacy, or the reverse, hypermasculinity, are common. Men may also become confused about their sexual orientation. Other mood disturbances such as depression or anxiety can lead to devastating physical effects, and men can become subject to denial, leading to stubbornness and difficulty in recognizing that what happened was actually sexual abuse.
What’s important to understand is that most victims do not become offenders. And most victims can overcome their mental issues and can have perfectly normal sexual relationships with a little help. Amvosa, The Men’s Project and Male Survivor are excellent organizations that offer tons of information online.
Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
Times have changed; the Tim Allen Tool Time depiction of masculinity is becoming a thing of the past. No, this doesn’t mean that males are becoming more effeminate, just simply more aware. Norman Mailer once said that “masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor.” Battling the mind can be one of the most hard-fought contests, but a win against it commands the ultimate esteem. In times of mental hardship, your greatest enemy is silence. Overcome this and you are well on your way to having good mental health.
Courtesy of Ask Men |Author Jacob Franek http://www.askmen.com/sports/health_150/176b_mens_health.html