Faq on Men’s Mental Health

Frequently Asked Questions on Men’s Mental  Health

(from bbrfoundation.org)

 

Is there a connection between sports injuries and mental illness?

Research has shown us that mental illness is often a combination of environment and genetic predisposition. Some Boston University studies on retired athletes found that those who had had three or more concussions had a three-fold higher incidence of depression compared to players with fewer brain injuries.1  While these studies find so much in the physical, there is an important aspect that few are willing to expose: the devastating social stigma that comes with mental illness. This can be even crueler for men than for women, as our society idolizes professional athletes,  as well as men in general some argue, for being tough, resilient and infallible.


Why are men less likely to seek treatment for mental illness than women?

Men may not recognize the primary symptoms of depression and may be reluctant to discuss these symptoms due to stigma, concerns for job security and the societal views associated with emotional self-control in men. There is a growing body of research in the United States that suggests that men are less likely than women to seek help from health professionals for problems  as diverse as depression, substance abuse, physical disabilities and stressful life events.

Is there a connection between depression and testosterone levels in men?

Research has indicated that low testosterone levels have been linked with higher risk for depression in men.2 Approximately 2.5 million men in the U.S. have low testosterone levels, with about half a million new cases each year. Some of the symptoms of low testosterone, such as fatigue, irritability, decreased concentration and decreased libido, overlap with symptoms of major depression.

Do men experience depression differently than women?

Men can experience depression differently than women and have different ways of coping. Men may be more willing to report fatigue, irritability, loss of interest in work or hobbies, and sleep disturbances rather than feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and excessive guilt, which are commonly associated with depression in women.

Do Men Experience Postpartum Depression?

In the past year, research has shown that men are also prone to depression after the birth of a child. The analysis of more than 28,000 fathers determined that up to 14% of dads in the U.S. experience depression after the birth of their child, and that figure escalates to 25% in the period 3 to 6 months after birth.3  Approximately10 percent of new fathers experience post- partum depression, called paternal postnatal depression, or PPND. The strong correlation of paternal postpartum depression with maternal postpartum depression has important implications for family health and well-being. Consideration of postpartum depression in fathers as well as mothers,  and consideration of co-occurrence of depression in couples, is an important next step in research and practice involving childbearing families.4

Is there a substantial difference in the occurrence of suicide for men and women?

Women with depression are more likely to attempt suicide but men are more likely to die by suicide. Four times as many men as women die by suicide, even though women make more suicide attempts during their lives. Those at highest risk for suicide in the U.S. are the elderly, and particularly elderly white men who commit suicide at a rate of approximately 31.1 suicides per 100,000 each year. Among white males 65 and older, risk goes up with age. White men 85 and older have a suicide rate that is six times that of the overall national rate.5

How do body image issues and eating disorders play out in men?

Some men feel a lot of pressure to have a strong, muscular physique and may focus excessively on exercise and dieting. These preoccupations can turn to an obsessive nature, causing harm physically, profession- ally, and personally. People with body image issues may feel unhappy with how they look and feel self-conscious about their bodies.Men and women are affected equally, but may focus on different parts of the body. Men tend to worry more about their skin, hair, nose, muscles and genitals.6 An estimated 10-15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are male. Men are less likely to seek treatment for eating disorders because of the perception that they are “women’s diseases.”7

 

Citations

1       American Association of Neuropathologists, Inc., Volume 68, Number 7

2       NARSAD Young Investigator  Grantee Josee Savard, PhD: The Role of Hormone Therapy and Testoster- one Deficiency in the Development of Depression

in Men with Prostate Cancer

3       Journal of the American Medical Association, 2010

4       Medline.(PMID:14675298 [PubMed – indexed for

MEDLINE]

5       National Center for Injury Prevention and Control

6       Carlat, D.J., Camargo. Review of Bulimia Nervosa in Males. American Journal of Psychiatry

7       National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, Eating Disorder Statistics, (American Psyc

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Coping with Stress and Depression During the Holidays

  • Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Try to set realistic goals for yourself. Pace yourself. Organize your time. Make a list and prioritize the important activities. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Do not put entire focus on just one day (i.e., Thanksgiving Day) remember it is a season of holiday sentiment and activities can be spread out (time-wise) to lessen stress and increase enjoyment.
  • Remember the holiday season does not banish reasons for feeling sad or lonely; there is room for these feelings to be present, even if the person chooses not to express them. Leave “yesteryear” in the past and look toward the future. Life brings changes. Each season is different and can be enjoyed in its own way. Don’t set yourself up in comparing today with the “good ol’ days.”
  • Do something for someone else. Try volunteering some time to help others.
  • Enjoy activities that are free, such as driving around to look at holiday decorations; going window shopping without buying; making a snowperson with children.
  • Be aware that excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.
  • Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
  • Spend time with supportive and caring people. Reach out and make new friends or contact someone you have not heard from for awhile.
  • Save time for yourself! Recharge your batteries! Let others share responsibility of activities.
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The Healing Thank You

What a weird title! And yes this time the word healing is correct, not some unconscious message sent to me. While you are deciding what I meant, how about a little music:

You can’t beat a title that preceeded the bad spelling of text messaging and im by 30 years!!!
The 2 words “thank you” should be common place in our society. They indicate an acknowledgement for something that someone else did that I appreciate. In northern NJ, apparently, people are comfortable/familiar with 2 other words that they hear more regularly. Recently, I went grocery shopping and said “thank you” to the person bagging my groceries. Her puzzled look and question, “what did you say?” confirmed that many people don’t apparently say thank you at the store. This got me thinking about the pure power of the these 2 words. Could it be used beyond the obvious meaning of thank you. Could thank you really mean I have power over you (instead of you having power over me). Could it mean that as a result of your actions I have learned something valuable? Could it be a healing thank you–one that removes my own pain, resentment, fear, etc? Could it really be “Thank you for letting me be myself again?”

In my office I get to see all kinds of people getting into all kinds of relationships. Some are really healthy and rewarding. Some are neither. The worst ones involve people that are really crazy (that is not a clinical assessment, that is an obvious fact!!) These crazy roller-coaster like relationships take people for the ride from hell, over and over again. In the process, they lose themselves, question their own sanity, and question their own beliefs. When these relationships end, the person is a broken shell of how they used to be. As the healing process continues, they regain more of themselves. But how does healing occur if I still have to interact with this crazy person? How do I deal with this person at the PTA, the religious group we both belong to, the visitations with our kids, the social group that we all go to? When ever I see this person I’m reminded of my pain.

Here is where the healing thank you comes in. Instead of my automatic behavior which is to hide and avoid this person,( which increases my anxiety, my projections, my pain) I simply go up to this “crazy person” make good eye contact, give him/her a nice direct smile with a beautifully spoken “thank you”. You may think that I have now lost it—you are asking me to go up to my enemy and thank him or her. I would rather spit on them or curse them and you are asking me to thank him/her. Let’s take 2 steps back. What will happen if you thank the person? You will disarm and confuse them—you will act in a totally different way and in some weird way take away their power over you. It may ultimately feel inside like those other 2 words or it really might be thank you—as in thank you for helping me, or thank you for giving me the motivation to make change, or thank you for allowing me to discover who I am, or “thank you for letting me be myself,……again.”

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Heeling

If you look at the title of this blog, heeling, it’s kind of odd. It is not a typo, and please don’t send me to the after school spelling clinic. I tend to listen to my unconscious writing–when I write down “heeling” there must be a reason for it. So let’s go with it—

Heel defined by the Merriam and Webster dictionary, in addition to being part of a foot, a command for a dog, part of shoe, is my unconsicous message: “contemptible person”. Many people come to my office to complain about their heels–the person who has done a wrong or bad deed–drank too much, is depressed, has cheated, has abused etc. The person coming in the door is upset by the acts of their heel and the impact that it has had on them. In fact, many times, the person makes the discovery that they have had many heels in their lives , and the effects of this has lowered their self esteem.

The other group of people who come to my office are the heels themselves. They generally don’t come because they recognized that they are doing bad things. Generally they come because the boss, court or spouse think they need some help for the things that they do.

When the spouse or family member comes to complain about his/her heel, they are usually blaming the heel for their problems. They are looking at how they have been wronged, how they have been hurt, how it’s not fair that this has happened. There is kind of a victim quality–it’s not my fault that my person did this to me. However the major change occurs when the person with great courage, begins to examine what they did that produced their own pain. The person goes from blaming the heel, to healing!!!! This amazing transformation takes the person from an external way of looking at the problem to a more self-directed, self-focused, intraspective way of looking at their own issues. They begin to realize that the way to get better is not by blaming the heel for what s/he did, but examining why I allowed this to happen, what stopped me from communicating, or acting upon situations that I could have changed. Now that’s a great process of change and healing!!!

What about the heels you may ask– Can they go from heels to healers? The simple answer, it depends. Do they have the ability, desire, readiness and motivation to do the same tranformation? Do they want to examine the truth of what they are “accused of”? It’s much easier to be compliant, do what is asked of them, and go home. The best part of what I do is that you never know which people are going to be compliant or which ones will change. What I have seen is that change is an equal opportunity process, any body can do it, but in order to do any type of healing, the person needs to recognize “we have met the enemy and they are us!!!!”

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