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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How to Be Happier

Sonja Lyubomirsky’s 11 Happiness Boosters

According to scientific research, with commitment and determined effort we can develop habits that help us achieve and maintain higher levels of happiness. Here are 11 such strategies to help you “construct” a happier life.

  1. Count Your Blessings. Keep a “gratitude journal” and once a week list three to five things for which you are thankful—from the mundane (your flowers are finally in bloom) to the magnificent (your child’s first steps). As much as possible, vary the kinds of blessings and how you express them. And in the process, if you name a particular person who has been kind to you or influential in your life, don’t wait to express your appreciation. Write him/her a letter now, or, if possible, visit and thank the person.
  2. Practice Acts of Kindness. These should be varied, and both random (let the dad with the crying baby go ahead of you at the checkout counter) and planned (read a newspaper to an elderly neighbor).
  3. Nurture Optimism. Practice finding the silver lining in negative events, noticing what’s right (rather than what’s wrong) in a given situation, feeling good about the future (your own and the world’s), or simply feeling that you can get through the day.
  4. Learn to Forgive. Write—but don’t send—a letter of forgiveness to a person who has hurt or wronged you. It may help you in letting go of anger, resentment, and feelings of vengeance.
  5. Increase “Flow” Experiences. When you’re so absorbed in what you’re doing that you don’t notice the passage of time, you’re in a state called “flow.” Try to increase the number of flow experiences in your life, whether you’re completing a project at the office, playing with your children, engaging in a temple mitzvah initiative, or enjoying a hobby. Enhance flow by engaging in work and leisure activities that draw upon your skills and expertise.
  6. Invest in Relationships. Having strong personal relationships is one of the major contributing factors to happiness. Put effort into healing, cultivating, and enjoying your relationships with family, friends, and fellow congregants. Act with love, be as kind to the people close to you as you are to strangers, affirm them, share with them, and play together.
  7. Avoid Over-Thinking. Even during trying times, very happy people have the capacity to absorb themselves in an engaging activity. Pick a distracting, attention-grabbing activity that has compelled you in the past and do it whenever you notice yourself obsessing about the bad stuff in your life.
  8. Savor Life’s Joys. Pay close attention to and take delight in momentary pleasures, wonders, and magical moments. Focus on the sweetness of a ripe mango, the aroma of a fresh baked challah, the warmth of the sun when you step out from the shade. Some psychologists suggest taking “mental photographs” of pleasurable moments to review in less happy times.
  9. Take Care of Your Soul. Studies show that religious and spiritual people are happier and healthier than others, perhaps because of the social support of belonging to a close-knit religious group and the sense of meaning and purpose that comes from believing in something greater than yourself. If you haven’t already, join a synagogue or a community center—and become actively involved.
  10. Commit to Your Goals. People who strive for something significant in their pursuits, whether it’s learning a new craft or raising moral children, are far happier than those who don’t have strong dreams or aspirations. Start by taking “baby steps” towards goals that help you accomplish something, nurture relationships, and feel better about yourself.
  11. Use Your Body. Getting plenty of sleep, exercising, stretching, meditating, smiling, and laughing can all enhance your mood in the short term, and promote strong mental health. Practiced regularly, these energizing practices can help make daily life more satisfying and increase long-term happiness.

 

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Practicing What I Preach

This is reprinted from the original A Week in the Life reprinted from July 2009.

Webster defines vacation as a respite or a time of respite from something or a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation. These are all nice and correct definitions. To me a vacation is a recharging of our internal batteries. If a good night’s sleep is compared to the recharging of a cell phone, a vacation is the jump start for a dead car battery. Attach those jumper cables and that dead battery will recharge and run well for a long time.

In our current economy people don’t take as many or for that matter any vacation. There’s too much fear about job loss etc. This is an understandable fear. However without that good jumpstart, work productivity will drag, enthusiasm for the job will not be there, burnout will occur. In that light, vacation is almost a no brainer.

A person has to define what a vacation means. Let’s go back to the definition. The first one is a respite. It doesn’t say a long tropical cruise to an exotic island, 2 weeks in Hawaii or month long European jaunt. It says respite as in lets take a break. The second definition a period spent away from. doesn’t specify how long or where or what that might entail. To me a vacation is a change in what I do. It means turning off the cell phone & computer. It means not reading any type of technical material (For me vacation reading= USA Today!). It means shutting down work of all kinds and not allowing work to enter my mind. When I am on vacation, I do not have a daily calendar, do not have a plan, and most of the time couldn’t tell you what day of the week it is. It’s the ultimate recharge!

I have worked with people over the years who will take their cell phone and/or laptop on vacation. It seems somewhat half assed to me. I’m going down the shore to enjoy the sand and sea, but I’m going to be in contact with work. Are they that indispensable? Is their name on the marquee? It’s almost like they couldn’t allow themselves to take that break, or timeout for fear of?

In my way of thinking, work is this thing that you do between vacations. When you return from a vacation, you work on planning the next one. This way you always have vacation on your mind. It’s on your calendar, it’s a goal to achieve. I’m working for the next 3 months and then I’m away. I once worked with a man who was going to Ireland. For the month prior to the trip, he brought in Irish music, pictures from previous trips to Ireland which he used as his screensaver, his itinerary for the trip. He was vacationing before he got there!!!

The ultimate recharger of our internal systems, vacation, is a healthy, useful and a necessary part of our lives. Please plan one.

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