Men may not be accurately represented by the statistics addressing male mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and suicide. The reason for this possible inaccuracy is that men are more likely to bottle up their emotions, avoid appointments with doctors, and underreport their medical symptoms.
So, while the data may or may not suggest otherwise, it must be understood that men are highly prone to mental health issues such as depression and suicide, and it’s likely a more significant issue than it may appear.
What follows will be a discussion surrounding mental health in conjunction with men’s health. The discussion will include mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety and the prevalence of suicide in men. It will also provide you with the most common causes of mental health conditions in men.
Finally, we’ll discuss several effective mental health treatments.
Defining Depression and Causes
Depression is broadly defined as a mood disorder prevalent in both men and women that may result in many severe symptoms. People with depression often experience symptoms of extreme sadness or hopelessness, which can last for prolonged periods. In addition, people who suffer from chronic depression often report frequent suicidal thoughts.
Those that live with depression, whether mild or severe, tend to have trouble handling the pressures of day-to-day life and struggle with negative feelings and thoughts.
The most common causes of depression are as follows:
- Genetics, Inheritance, and Biological Factors
- Brain Chemistry Abnormalities
- Substance Abuse
- Environmental and Situational Factors ( Trauma, Conflict)
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- Side Effects of Certain Medications
The Prevalence of Suicide in Men
The highest rates of suicide are in middle-aged white males, accounting for nearly 70% of deaths by suicide. The CDC has also reported that men are 3.63% more likely to die by suicide than women. In addition, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America, according to the CDC. However, an even more daunting statistic is the number of suicide attempts documented in the United States.
A reported 1.3 million suicide attempts occurred in America alone in 2019. Note that the number of suicides is only an estimate and fails to recognize the thousands of suicides that cannot be verified or documented. It is likely that the majority of these undocumented cases are men.
In order to see improvement in the rate of suicide, both men and women who experience depression and suicidal ideation must have an opportunity to express their feelings without feeling ashamed and embarrassed. In addition, they need to feel comfortable in seeking help. As mental health awareness improves and becomes more prevalent, there is hope that the suicide rate can also improve.
Luckily, conversations surrounding mental health, especially regarding men, have become more common in recent years, yet, more work certainly needs to be done in this area.
Effective Antidepressant Treatments
Treating and managing depression has been successful in 80+ percent of cases, both in men and women. Treating depression will likely require a deeper evaluation as to the cause of the depression by a skilled mental health professional. In addition, managing some of the likely triggers of depression (alcohol and drug use) will undoubtedly help in the treatment of individuals with depression.
Because men, in particular, are more likely to abuse substances such as drugs and alcohol, treatment of depression may require simultaneous addiction treatment in men.
The following are the most common antidepressant treatments:
- Lifestyle Changes (Exercise, Diet, Water Intake, Sleep)
- Reducing Stress Levels
- Antidepressant Medications
- Psychiatric Treatment and Therapy
The severity of depression will determine the course of action required. In mild cases, mental health conditions can be treated by time, support, and lifestyle changes. In more complex cases, those suffering from acute depression may need admission to a psychiatric facility for treatment.
Antidepressant medications have been very successful in improving the mood of patients with depression. A class of antidepressant medications that has become very popular is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s). These medications affect the chemical messenger serotonin. When taken, these medications increase the concentration of serotonin in the spaces between brain cells for longer periods of time. Higher serotonin levels are associated with elevated mood and decreased anxiety.
The following are 5 of the most commonly prescribed antidepressant medications:
- Prozac (Fluoxetine)
- Celexa (Citalopram)
- Zoloft (Sertraline)
- Paxil (Paroxetine)
- Lexapro (Escitalopram)
Those suffering from depression or living with suicidal thoughts should seek help immediately. Friends of males with this known condition must understand that their male friend will likely downplay symptoms. A strong support system that also employs resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Line (1-800-273-8255) is the best way to help those with depression.
While the conversation surrounding mental health has grown in recent years, more effort is needed to improve the treatment of this condition, especially in men.
Through building a support system, seeking professional help, and taking any medication prescribed by a mental health professional, depression and other mental health conditions can be well managed and treated.