Frequently Asked Questions on Men’s Mental Health
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
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
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