Men’s Mental Health: The Stigma of Treatment
June is Men’s Health Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about various aspects of men’s well-being. While physical health often takes center stage, it is crucial not to overlook the significance of men’s mental health. We know that mental health is not exclusive to any gender, however, certain issues tend to be more prevalent among men. In fact, men are less likely to seek assistance for their mental health needs than women.
Dr. Scott Shannon writes, when men experience mental health issues that remain unaddressed, less favorable outcomes result from the symptoms which might be:
- Depression: Although men may experience depression, they are also less likely to recognize and seek help for their symptoms. Men may exhibit different signs of depression, such as irritability, anger, and increased risk-taking behavior, rather than openly expressing sadness or hopelessness.
- Anxiety: Societal norms of male behavior and the pressure to appear strong may make it harder for men to acknowledge and seek support for their anxiety symptoms.
- Anger/ Violence: According to research done by Steven Rondeau ND, “Persons with high trait anger often have poor social relationships  and are more likely to engage in confrontation , aggressive behavior [14, 15] and domestic violence .”
- Substance abuse: Men are more likely to engage in substance abuse as a way to cope with stress, emotional difficulties, or other underlying mental health issues. Substance abuse can magnify and also contribute to mental health problems and addiction.
- Suicide: Men have higher rates of completed suicide compared to women. Factors contributing to this disparity include socialization norms that discourage men from seeking help, reluctance to express vulnerability, and a higher prevalence of impulsive and lethal suicide methods among men.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Men can develop PTSD as a result of experiencing or witnessing traumatic events. Military service, physical assault, accidents, or natural disasters are examples of situations that can lead to PTSD in men.
- Body image and eating disorders: Although eating disorders are commonly associated with women, men can also struggle with body image concerns and develop eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. Societal expectations around masculinity and physical appearance can contribute to these issues. “Due to stigma and feelings of shame, men may deny their symptoms and hesitate to seek treatment.”
Understand that seeking help for mental health issues is a sign of strength, and men should be encouraged to reach out to healthcare professionals, therapists, or support groups for assistance. Creating an environment that promotes open dialogue, reduces stigma, and provides accessible mental health resources is essential for supporting men’s mental well-being.
At Wholeness Center we provide several therapies that are particularly supportive of the mental health symptoms men might experience.
EEG Imaging and Neurofeedback is a way to discover new avenues for PTSD identification and treatment.
In the world of mental health, groundbreaking advancements are continually being made. Recent research has unveiled the potential of functional brain imaging in identifying PTSD. By analyzing brainwave patterns, scientists can pinpoint unique neural signatures associated with the disorder, leading to more accurate diagnoses.
Furthermore, the application of neurofeedback as a treatment for PTSD has shown remarkable promise.
The integration of qEEG imaging and neurofeedback brings forth new possibilities for understanding and treating PTSD. This innovative approach offers hope to those affected by the condition, paving the way for more personalized and effective interventions.
Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy is another supportive therapy for men’s mental health because it helps them realize the level of severity of their PTSD. So much of the motivation for change stems from this awareness. It’s not uncommon for people with PTSD to comment on how less reactive they are to stressors following ketamine treatment. Survival behaviors that once seemed normal begin to fade into the background. When patients realize how far off the mark they have been they begin to give themselves the care and attention they need to heal.
Inclusive Talk Therapy gives people the space to process where they are at with their gender or sexual identity. Issues commonly addressed included navigating the ongoing process of coming out as well as helping people navigate the complex process of pursuing gender-affirming hormones and surgery.
Hormone Testing, specifically the role of testosterone—a hormone predominantly associated with masculinity—can influence men’s mental well-being. While testosterone’s role in physical development is well-documented, its impact on mental health is a subject of ongoing research. Here are some key aspects to consider:
- Mood and Emotional Well-being: Studies have shown a correlation between testosterone levels and mood regulation. Low levels of testosterone have been associated with symptoms such as irritability, fatigue, and decreased motivation. Additionally, some research suggests a potential link between low testosterone and an increased risk of developing conditions like depression and anxiety. However, it is important to note that testosterone is just one factor among many that can contribute to mental health issues.
- Cognitive Function: Testosterone also appears to influence cognitive abilities, including memory, attention, and spatial awareness. Some studies suggest that low testosterone levels may contribute to cognitive decline in older men.
The ADAM questionnaire can be helpful in screening for low testosterone symptoms before testing.
One important thing for men to know is that it is important to also test for estrogen levels when a hormonal imbalance might be suspected.
We would love to tell you more about the amazing work we are doing in the practice of integrative mental health care. We offer a variety of mental health tools to assist you. If you live in the Northern Colorado/ Ft. Collins area and would like to learn more about the innovative programs at Wholeness Center, please call 970-221-1106 or email email@example.com.
Rondeau, Steven. “Neural Correlates of Violent Behavior: The Role of Anger and Other Psychiatric Disorders as Measured by Electroencelography.” https://www.wholeness.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Revised_-Neural-Correlates-of-Violent-Behavior-WITH-Wholeness-Logo.pdf. Date accessed June 8, 2023.
Sangha, Simrin et al. “Eating Disorders in Males: How Primary Care Providers Can Improve Recognition, Diagnosis, and Treatment.” American journal of men’s health vol. 13,3 (2019): 1557988319857424. doi:10.1177/1557988319857424
Shannon, Scott. “Trauma in Men and Boys.” https://www.wholeness.com/blog/2022/06/. Date accessed June 8, 2023.
Experts in the mental health field have long known that women carry a horrific burden of trauma into adulthood. As many as 30% of girls encounter some form of sexual abuse by age 21. This is unacceptable and the cause of untold suffering. Luckily, this trauma is being more openly addressed and confronted today. However, we may have lost sight of how many boys become traumatized in childhood. Recent exposes about the criminal behavior of priests in the Catholic Church and leaders within the Boy Scouts have uncovered what some of us have suspected for a long time: huge numbers of vulnerable boys become victimized before adulthood. Sadly, boys and men are less likely to speak out or seek help. They may suffer quietly for years or even decades before this internalized misery bubbles forth with symptoms like anger, alcoholism, depression, or anxiety.
Abuse such as this may become full-blown Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In this case, the symptoms are consistent anxiety, flashbacks, insomnia, withdrawal, and disconnection. Research such as the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) studies indicate that experiences like sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or physical abuse create scars that last a lifetime. This simple assessment tool asks only ten questions about concerns such as abuse, parental domestic violence, and parental alcohol abuse in childhood. The reported scores predict depression, suicide attempts, anxiety, addiction, and even medical illness in mid-life. This simple score may be our best predictor of mental illness in adulthood. Sadly, our current treatments such as SSRI medications like Prozac and Zoloft for trauma and PTSD are inadequate.
At Wholeness we are involved in landmark research about the use of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat PTSD in adults. As one of 13 sites around the world engaged in this work, we have been working with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) for more than five years to bring this work to the public. We have found this treatment to be particularly helpful for combat trauma, a form of PTSD that is common in men. Enrollment for this study closed earlier this month and we hope this treatment will be released by the FDA later next year. This work is powerful enough that it was assigned Breakthrough Therapy Status by the FDA in 2017. We clearly need treatment options like MDMA to treat trauma more effectively.
In the meantime, Wholeness offers ketamine-assisted psychotherapy to treat trauma. This work is very similar to the work with MDMA in that we create an altered state of consciousness to make this process more tolerable and more effective. Ketamine significantly softens the fear and terror that is so connected to childhood trauma and PTSD. Eyeshades and music help the participant enter a psychedelic experience to less painfully access the traumatic experiences. Our therapists at Wholeness are trauma-informed and most have been trained in working with MDMA by MAPS. Early research on ketamine for PTSD is quite hopeful. Whether ketamine or traditional psychotherapy, the most important first step is to acknowledge the pain and suffering that is caused by abuse and seek help.
If you are struggling with PTSD, please contact the Wholeness Center. We have a variety of mental health tools to assist you. If you live in the Northern Colorado/ Ft. Collins area and would like to learn more about the innovative programs the Wholeness Center has to offer, please call 970-221-1106 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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