Similar to many other ailments, mental health problems affect both men and women. However, the scientific literature shows an evident prevalence of mental illness in women and lower incidence in men. That is why some people think that men do not suffer from common problems such as depression or eating disorders. Is that the case?
In this article, we are going to cover the topic of mental health in men. We will name and briefly describe the most common mental disorders affecting men, and give you a series of warning signs and symptoms you should be aware of.
Mental health problems in men
It is commonly believed that mental health problems affect a higher number of women than men, and it is true. However, something must be happening with statistics because men are more likely to die by suicide compared to women.
There’s a simple explanation to this apparent inconsistency: Men are more likely to be underdiagnosed and incorrectly treated. They are less likely to look for professional help when they suffer from problems such as depression and anxiety. Even major disorders that may compromise their social and working life are not appropriately diagnosed, as it happens with post-traumatic stress disorders.
Moreover, there are certain diseases and mental health conditions that are more likely to happen in men compared to women. This is a list of the most common mental health problems in men:
- Attention-Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): This disorder includes symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity, and it is commonly diagnosed in children and more common in boys. However, even adult men have been diagnosed with ADHD because during their infancy there were not enough diagnostic tools to understand their behaviour and learning problems.
- Autism Spectrum Disorder: It is associated with a significant genetic predisposition, and it affects plenty of boys. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a very wide term that includes higher functioning forms of autism such as Asperger’s syndrome and more severe cases of autistic disorder.
Obsessive-compulsive disorders: There are many adults with obsessive-compulsive disorder, characterised by obsessive thoughts that won’t go away until you do something in particular to relieve it (which is clinically called compulsion).
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Popular cases of PTSD include males who served in the army and came back home with traumatic and gruesome memories that changed their personalities and the way they interact with their loved ones. However, there are many varieties and causes of PTSD to consider, and it is not rare in males.
- Anxiety disorder: Men are commonly exposed to working environments and places where stress and anxiety are widespread. As a result, men experience many forms of anxiety, and sometimes they are not able to deal with them appropriately.
Warning signs and early symptoms
As you can see, mental health problems are not only a woman’s concern. There are many other ailments to list and describe, including schizophrenia, eating disorders, substance abuse, and borderline personality. However, we can be aware of them and prevent their consequences by keeping an eye on a series of signs and symptoms that may serve as a warning:
- Sudden and unexplained irritability and anger: Mood swifts and having negative feelings without any apparent cause should be assessed by a mental health professional. You may need to rule out diagnoses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, and much more.
- Unexplained changes in appetite or energy levels: You should probably look for justification if there are unexplained changes in the way your body behaves and how this affects your daily life. If you’re having constant changes in your energy levels and appetite, consider talking to a professional.
- Recurrent sleeping problems: Sleeping disturbances increase the risk of mental health problems in men and women, and it is sometimes a serious problem by itself.
- Suicidal thoughts: They are often underdiagnosed or not reported, but they are probably the most critical warning signs given the higher prevalence of suicide in men.
- Obsessive or unusual thinking: Look for professional help if you have recurrent thoughts you can handle or if your thoughts or actions are causing concern to your loved ones or problems at work.
- Flat emotions: Men are not as emotional as women, but their emotions are not flat, either. If you have serious problems experiencing positive emotions, report this unusual problem to your doctor, even if it is not yet giving much trouble as far as you’re concerned.
Why is it more challenging to treat men with mental health problems?
As we mentioned in the first paragraphs of this article, men with mental health problems are probably underdiagnosed because they do not seek professional help so often. This is not only an assumption; this claim is backed up with scientific evidence that consistently indicates how men seem more reluctant than women to seek professional help, even when they have clear mental health concerns.
Even governments and organizations have realized this trend and tried to impulse special campaigns and give men more access to mental health services. However, even policies trying to raise men’s awareness of mental health issues have not reached a conclusive end in some cases. It is difficult to fight against social stigma and beliefs that men are not allowed to hold or express certain emotions or accept their vulnerability and their need for communication and understanding by a psychologist.
Men also have more difficulty than women to engage in some parts of the psychological treatment, and it is more difficult to reach a therapeutic relationship. Thus, they commonly drop out mental health services and avoid any future contact with these professionals as a result of a bad experience in the past.
As shown in this article, mental health problems are not only experienced by women. Plenty of men have concerning signs and symptoms, and they would have various consequences if not properly addressed. Men are not less masculine if they look for professional help. On the contrary, doing so will guarantee a significant improvement in how they face their everyday challenges and the level of satisfaction in their household.