Do women suffer from mental illness more than men? If so, is there a disparity in awareness and treatment? While mental illness is more prevalent among women, men who do have mental health disorders are less likely to receive treatment and more likely to die by suicide.1 From this, we can conclude that there’s a severe imbalance regarding care and awareness for mental illness among men. With this said, you can play a role in bringing awareness to this disparity by looking out for the common signs of mental illness in men and being prepared to help individuals find treatment.
Most Common Mental Health Disorders in Men
Men are less likely to be diagnosed with common mental health disorders, yet they’re four times more likely to die by suicide than women. Why the gap?
Social norms and stigma around gender teach young men to conceal their emotions and be tough. Much of society teaches men that they have to be strong ones and avoid showing vulnerability so they can be there for others.
Certain cultures also discourage men from showing vulnerability and emotion, constantly reminding them that they’re the so-called “men of the family” and must therefore be the tough ones that everyone can go to for help. Considering this, it’s understandable why so many men are hesitant to consider they may have a mental health disorder, let alone openly talk about these struggles with others.
Educating yourself on mental health stigma in males can help give them the floor to talk about their mental health struggles and find the treatment they need. With this in mind, below are the most common mental health disorders in men:
- Depression: According to the CDC, 5.6% of young adult males suffer from depression, making it the most common mental illness among men. That’s about half the number of women of the same age. However, while male depression is diagnosed less often than in women, many young men with depression whose disorders have not been identified by a doctor do not display all typical symptoms of major depressive disorder. It’s also important to note that male suicide represents 79% of all suicides in the U.S.
- Anxiety: Anxiety disorders are one of the most common male mental health disorders. The NIH reports that generalized anxiety disorder affects approximately 2.7% of American adults, with males experiencing anxiety at a slightly lesser rate than women (1.9 percent). Other common anxiety disorders in men include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety, and phobias.
- Substance Use Disorder: Otherwise referred to as drug or alcohol addiction, substance use disorders are mental disorders characterized by the inability to control the use of legal or illegal substances like alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, benzodiazepines, and others. Generally, young men are more likely than women to use drugs, including marijuana, hallucinogens, and prescription painkillers. Men are also two times more likely to binge drink than women and have consistently higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations. Our Massachusetts inpatient drug rehab offers addiction treatment for men and women who are struggling with substance use disorders and need help getting sober.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Common men’s mental health disorders also include PTSD. Approximately 60% of men experience at least one trauma in their lives, typically related to accidents, physical assault, combat, or witnessing injury or death.
- Bipolar Disorder: Formerly known as bipolar depression, bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings that range from manic highs to depressive lows. Bipolar disorder in males usually manifests between the ages of 15 and 24 and affects 2.6% of the U.S. population. While bipolar disorder isn’t as common as other male mental health disorders, 83% of those that are diagnosed are classified as severe.
Signs of Mental Illness in Men
Men and women may experience different symptoms of the same mental health disorder. This might reflect differing views of mental illness, both among healthcare providers as well as males.
Additionally, men are more likely to seek help for physical symptoms than mental health symptoms, such as fatigue or physical pain. However, they may dismiss emotional symptoms, such as extreme sadness along with anger, irritability, or aggressive behavior.
Society and many cultures make aggression and irritability normal male characteristics and consider them the norm rather than a possible sign of mental health struggles. Self-medication via alcohol use is also common among men, which could worsen mental health symptoms.
If you suspect that a man in your life is struggling with mental illness, below are common symptoms of mental illness in men to look out for:
- Aches, headaches, and/or digestive problems without a direct cause
- Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
- Changes in mood and energy levels
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling restless or on edge
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Feeling “flat,” sad or hopeless, or having suicidal thoughts
- Increased worry or stress
- Misuse of alcohol and/or drugs
- Unusual thinking or behaviors, including high-risk activities
- Withdrawal from loved ones
- Decreased performance at school or work
The signs of mental illness in men will vary depending on the specific disorder. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness or addiction, reach out to our Massachusetts treatment center to learn how we can help.
Mental Health Treatment for Men
Clearbrook Treatment Centers Massachusetts offers residential mental health care for men and women struggling with disorders like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, and others.
For more information about our addiction and mental health services, call Clearbrook at 570-536-9621.
- NIH – Symptoms of depression in young adulthood is associated with unfavorable clinical- and behavioral cardiovascular disease risk factors
- Monitoring the Future – National Survey Results on Drug Use 1975 – 2019
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – PTSD: National Center for PTSD
- NIH – Bipolar Disorder