While data from the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) shows that men tend to experience mental illness at a lower prevalence than women, millions of American men do experience mental illness such as depression or anxiety every year. And sadly, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that men are more likely to die by suicide than women.
With there already being such a stigma for getting help when you feel you’re depressed, anxious, or need help processing trauma, it’s important that both men and women are aware of the symptoms of mental illness in men, which can often differ from the symptoms experienced by women.
Mental Illness Symptoms in Men
Most people think that a person experiencing depression will feel sad or withdrawn and that a person with anxiety will be worried and fearful. Unfortunately, men don’t always show these telltale mental illness symptoms.
Most men who seek out counseling do so because they’ve been encouraged to do so by a doctor, spouse or partner, or friend who has noticed the following types of symptoms:
- Increased stress, especially if it is identified by a doctor as a contributing factor to a comorbid heart condition. Increased stress can make these types of comorbid conditions fatal.
- Difficulties with anger management.
- Changes in sleep or appetite.
- Trouble concentrating or feeling a general sense of restlessness.
- Unusual thinking behaviors, especially if they concern friends or family members or interfere with a man’s family, work, or social life.
While underneath all these symptoms there is usually sadness or fear, our society is biased against people seeking help for mental illness. When you combine that bias with the pressures placed on men to be “tough” and unemotional, it means several men who could benefit from counseling don’t seek out our services.
Common External Stressors on Men
Our culture places very high expectations on men. Men are supposed to be the head of their household, the provider for their family, and the manager of the family finances. They also feel tremendous pressure to fix things. Men are also taught from the time they are young boys that they aren’t supposed to talk about their feelings, which makes reaching out for mental health help all that more difficult for them.
Oftentimes, challenges in a man’s marriage, his work environment, or with his finances can lead to the type of mental illness symptoms we listed above
Counseling for Men’s Mental Health
Many men who seek out counseling benefit best from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of talk therapy is focused on:
- Creating goals for your therapy sessions and the time you will spend with your counselor upfront.
- Having a shorter time frame of therapy sessions, with all sessions focused on helping men leave with actionable items to manage their stress, anxiety, or depression.
- Having men discuss current stressors and depressive events with their counselors, and learn coping skills for managing those events and related emotions.
- Learning relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises or meditation, both of which can be done during short spurts throughout the day.
Our team of dedicated professionals from a variety of backgrounds, training and experiences will work with you to meet your mental health goals.
Breaking the Stigma in Men’s Mental Health
Perhaps the most important thing we do in counseling sessions with men, especially during CBT sessions, is to help men realize that it’s okay to seek out counseling. Learning skills to cope with stress, anger, anxiety, or depression can greatly improve a man’s quality of life and areas of his life such as his marriage, his parenting, his professional life, and his finances.
There is no reason to be ashamed for seeking out a counselor who can help teach you tools to use so you feel happier and healthier. If you’re a man who feels stressed, restless, or just not like yourself, our counselors who are trained in CBT can help.
Contact Us for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
As the old saying goes, a 1,000-mile journey begins with a single step.
We know that reaching out for help can be difficult. That’s why we have two options for you. You can call our offices at (504) 302-7771, or fill out our online contact form to begin the process of being matched with a counselor trained in CBT.