Mens Health Awareness

Dr. Richard Taborga, Psy.D, shares his blog on Men's Health Month:

June is Men’s Health Month, a time used across our nation to raise awareness about health care for men and to encourage young boys, men and families to implement healthy living practices, such as exercise and healthy eating, as well as regular screenings and prevention measures related to men’s health issues.

Among the many concerns related to the health of men in the U.S., mental health stands out as an issue that is rarely discussed. On average, one in eight men will have depression and one in five men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives. Yet, compared to women, men are more likely to hide symptoms of anxiety and/or depression and cases of suicide are higher. This means that men will often suffer alone and may never receive help, despite the fact that studies suggest that both, men and women, respond well to therapy and medication for mental health issues. While depression and anxiety are serious issues affecting men, simply adjusting to life stressors can be the focus of treatment in therapy and a worthwhile venture to improve overall physical and emotional well-being.

Here are the signs of depression and anxiety in men, as well as simple life changes that may be beneficial:

Physical signs of anxiety in men may include:

  • Pounding or racing heart
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle tension
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Dizziness and vertigo
  • Shortness of breath or choking sensations
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Panic attacks.

Emotional signs of anxiety may include:

  • Constant worry about what could or might go wrong
  • Feelings of dread
  • Difficulty with Concentration
  • Avoidance
  • Catastrophic thinking (thinking the worst)
  • Irritability or edginess
  • Being overly vigilant towards danger
  • Absent mindedness
  • Fear of losing control.

Symptoms of depression in men:

While depression is often associated with sadness and hopelessness, it may manifest itself in irritability and anger, unnecessary risk taking, and alcohol or drug abuse in men.

Physical signs of depression may include:

  • Loss of energy, lethargy or exhaustion
  • Changes in appetite
  • Change in sleep patterns and restlessness
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Alcohol or drug abuse.

Emotional signs of depression may include:

  • Feeling sad or nervous
  • Losing interest or pleasure in activities
  • Feeling irritable, angry or violent
  • Becoming withdrawn and isolated
  • Feeling worthless, guilty, or hopeless
  • Taking unnecessary risks
  • Thinking about death or suicide.

Lifestyle changes that may be beneficial in improving your emotional health include spending time with supportive friends and family, regular exercise, improvement in sleep and eating habits, and cutting down on alcohol and other drugs.

While simple lifestyle changes may drastically improve your emotional health, sometimes professional help is needed. Psychotherapy treatments include evidence-based approaches that are effective in treating various difficulties and are often recommended first, before medication. Finding the right therapist is incredibly important and your search may begin with a referral from your primary care physician or a simple internet search.

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