Men’s Health Month: Recognizing the Signs of Addiction and Mental Health Disorders in Men
June 1st kicked off Men’s Health Month! This month is dedicated to raising the awareness of preventable health disorders and encourage early detection of disease among men. All across the United States, Men’s Health Month is celebrated with screenings, health fairs, media promotions, and other outreach and educational activities. It provides health care providers, policy makers, the media, and individuals the opportunity to urge men and their families to vigilant when it comes to managing their health and well-being.
Awareness and early detection are crucial for preventing most chronic diseases that impact men. Addiction as well as co-occurring mental disorders are both treatable conditions with preventable measures. In recognition of Men’s Health Month, we will be taking a look at the specific challenges that men face when struggling with addiction and mental illness in order to raise awareness.
Men and Addiction Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men are more likely than women to drink excessively. Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to increased short-term risk to health and safety. Additionally, men are more likely to take risks when combined with excessive drinking that further increases their risk of injury or death. These risks include driving fast and/or without a seatbelt.
The same research suggests that men are almost twice as likely to binge drink than women. They also have consistently higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than their female counterparts. In the case of drivers involved in fatal car accidents, men are nearly twice as likely to have been intoxicated as women.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that men are more likely than women to use almost all types of illicit drugs. Men also start using drugs at an earlier age and abuse drugs more often than women do. While women tend to become addicted to substances more easily than men, addiction tends to become more severe in men. Because of the severity and prevalence of addiction in males, overdose rates for males are higher.
Men are more likely to abuse drugs due to peer pressure or to be accepted in a group. They are also more likely to abuse substances when they feel good to increase the pleasurable feelings and cope with social and behavioral issues. Overall, men are more experimental will illicit substances than women.
Men’s Mental Health
Societal norms play an interesting role when it comes to men’s mental health. From a young age, boys are taught to be “tough” when it comes to their feelings: don’t cry, don’t show them you’re hurt, etc. Consequently, the ability to express emotions in a healthy manner is difficult. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, men are less likely to talk about their feelings and seek the help they need. Some men may view mental illness as a sign of weakness instead of a treatable illness. This makes it challenging to get them the help that they so desperately need.
Research by Psychology Today states that men make up over 75% of suicide victims in the United States. Male suicide rates have been rising since 2000, with it being the seventh leading cause of death among males. It’s critical to be vigilant when it comes to the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders in yourself as well as those around you. Some mental health disorders may display different symptoms in men than they do women. Five of the major mental health issues that affect men are:
- Anxiety: Over 3 million men in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, or other phobias.
- Depression: Feelings of sadness and worthlessness are common symptoms of depression in women. However, men are more likely to experience symptoms of fatigue, irritability, and loss of interest. Over 6 million men suffer from depression in the United States every year, however male depression often goes undiagnosed.
- Eating Disorders: 10% of patients who battle bulimia or anorexia are males, while 35% of those have binge-eating disorders. Men are also less likely to seek help for eating disorders than women.
- Psychosis and Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia is a brain and behavioral disorder presents severe and debilitating symptoms that affect how one thinks, feels, and acts. According to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, 10% of people with schizophrenia will complete a suicide in the first 10 years of the illness — namely young men with schizophrenia.
While mental illness can affect both men and women, men are more likely to commit suicide than women. This is why being educated and being able to recognize the warning signs of mental disorders in men is extremely important. Remember, recognizing the signs is the first step towards getting treatment. The sooner that treatment begins, the more effective it can be. Some of these symptoms include:
- Noticeable changes in mood, appetite, and energy levels
- Aggressiveness, anger, and irritability
- Trouble concentrating
- Restlessness or feeling on edge
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Suicidal thoughts
- Engaging in high-risk or harmful activities
- Muscle and stomach aches or digestive issues
- Obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior.
- Unusual thinking or behaviors
- Negative thoughts that interfere with family, work, or social life
- Increased stress or worry
- Misuse of alcohol or drugs
- Trouble feeling positive emotions
Preventing Addiction and Mental Health Disorders
Addiction can be prevented through screening and early intervention. Prevention is most effective when it begins during childhood and continues through early adolescence. School and Community-based addiction programs can help young people learn how to resist social pressures, strengthen self-esteem, improve communication skills, and manage stress. Education based strategies are often utilized in order to teach children, teens, and adolescents the dangers of alcohol and drugs in order to prevent addiction or substance abuse.
There is no sure way to prevent mental health disorders. Mental health issues can arise at any point in an individual’s life. However, there are preventable measures that can be taken that cater to and maintain a person’s mental wellness. This includes engaging in self-care practices, managing stress effectively, and taking care of your body. If you have already been diagnosed with a mental disorder previously, paying attention to warning signs, receiving regular medical care, and getting help when you need can help keep symptoms of mental disorders under control.
This Men’s Health Month, look out for those around you who may be struggling with preventable disorders. Remind the men in your life to be vigilant when it comes to maintaining their health- both physical and mental. If you or someone you know may be struggling with addiction or co-occurring mental health disorders, you are not alone. Contact us today for more information on moving forward.