Mental health is a significant component of anyone’s well-being, and unfortunately, issues of men’s mental health are often silenced in society. There is a catastrophic intersection of low rates of diagnosed depression and high rates of suicide and substance abuse among the U.S. male population. Why is this happening, and can it be fixed?
Why are men less likely to seek treatment compared to women? Researchers can come up with some theories regarding this:
- Men are struggling to fill the breadwinner role: Traditional societal norms position men to be the primary financial provider in the home. However, the decline in industries like manufacturing has left many men in certain regions unemployed, with women now as large a part of the national workforce as men.
- Blurring of work and life: So much of a man’s sense of self-worth is linked to how much money he earns. This, combined with advances in technology, has made it so some people never really escape the office. Over time, this can cause high stress and lead to depression.
Men’s mental health: Why is depression in men undiagnosed so often?
- Failure to recognize symptoms: Most people assume that feeling sad or emotional are the signs to look for when diagnosing depression. However, as discussed earlier, men and women experience depression differently.
- Ignoring or minimizing symptoms and signs: Many men assume they will get over whatever problems are plaguing them and downplay the impact they are having on their lives. When men are feeling depressed, many consider that the problem will go away on its own.
- Reluctance to Talk About Problems: Men don’t generally discuss issues openly with close friends, so speaking to a mental health professional about them is even more unlikely.
Numbers don’t lie Statistics on men’s mental health.
- Nine percent of men in the United States have daily feelings of depression or anxiety, and one in three of these men took medication because of their beliefs and one in four of these men spoke to a mental health professional.
- 30.6 percent of men in the United States have suffered from a period of depression in their lifetime.
- The suicide rate for men is four times higher compared to women. Women are more likely to attempt suicide, whereas men are more likely to succeed.
- Caucasian men 85 years of age or older have the highest suicide rate of any demographic in the United States, four times larger than the population as a whole.
- Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (8.7% of men are alcohol dependent compared to 3.3% of women.
- Men are more likely to use (and die from) illegal drugs.
- Globally, every minute, a man dies by suicide.
- In the United States, 75% of suicides are men.
- Men living in small towns and rural areas have unusually high rates of suicide. Indeed, flyover states such as Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, and Utah have the highest rates of suicide in the country. Alaska also has very high frequencies.
- There are very high rates of suicide among veterans and gay men. Some have attributed this to the fact that these groups of men may feel (whether it is real or not) rejected by society and mainstream media.
- It has been well established that men are more likely to use suicide methods of high lethality, or methods with an increased risk of death. This is supported by the finding in a European study that 62 percent of males who attempt suicide use hanging or firearms, compared to 40 percent of women.
- Depression in men often results in irritability, anger, hostility, risk-taking, and escaping behavior. Depression in women is more commonly associated with sadness, crying, feelings of guilt, and changes in appetite.