June Featured Story – Men’s Health Month + Mental Health!
The following article was written for and published by the Men’s Health Resource Center. The original article in it’s entirety can be found here. Metro does not claim ownership to any of the following content.
Mental Health & Well-Being
Depression is under-diagnosed in men. Men are over four times more likely than women to commit suicide.
Overall, women are about twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with a mental health issue. But that statistic tells only a small part of the story.
Just as the body changes with age, so does the mind. You may find that you’re misplacing things or you’re just not as on top of things as you used to be. You may experience memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life caused by dementia. As you age, you may also start to feel stressed or depressed due to the loss of a loved one, health problems or financial difficulties. Stress may cause you to lose energy, fail to eat enough or isolate yourself. Proper diet management and physical exercise can be the key to a positive outlook and staying emotionally balanced!
Why? To start with, men make about two-thirds as many healthcare provider visits as women do. And even when we do see a healthcare provider, we’re often reluctant to talk about what’s really bothering us, especially if it has anything to do with feelings or mood. Plus, most men don’t realize that some of the physical symptoms we may experience —things like chronic pain and digestive problems — could actually be caused by a mental health issue such as depression, anxiety or stress.
Then there are the men who know (or at least strongly suspect) that they have a problem, but suffer in silence, afraid to admit they need help. They may be afraid others will find out their secret and they’ll be perceived as weak or wimpy or that they’ll lose their job.
The following are common types of emotional health conditions found in men. Browse through each type to find out information such as symptoms, treatment options and prevention tips for each condition.
WHAT AFFECTS YOUR MENTAL HEALTH?
Your mental health can be influenced by a number of factors, including:
- Your genes (some mental health issues run in families)
- Divorce, separation, or the breakup of a long-term relationship
- The death of a loved one
- Losing your job, or job changes
- Going through bankruptcy
- Moving to a new home
- Coping with a natural disaster
- Caring for an aging parent
- The birth of your child
- Being diagnosed and living with a serious illness, or suffering a major injury
- Serving in the military, especially in combat
Mental health and your outlook on life can also change without any obvious cause. Sometimes lots of little things build up and the combination can be extremely harmful.
THE BIG QUESTION: AM I NORMAL?
We all have our ups and downs. But most of us wonder at least one time in our life whether what we’re feeling is normal or whether we need professional help. Unfortunately, there’s no single answer that’s right for everyone. However, here’s a good rule of thumb: You need assistance if you’ve been having symptoms every day for more than two weeks and if those symptoms keep you from enjoying life, performing at work or maintaining relationships with friends, your partner or your children. Untreated mental health conditions can get worse and may have serious consequences. You might, for example, damage your physical health. Or you could increase your risk of doing something to harm yourself or others or of committing suicide. Fortunately with the right diagnosis and the right treatment, most mental health problems are easily resolved and you’ll return to feeling content with life and be better able to cope with its challenges.
MENTAL HEALTH RELATION TO SEXUAL HEALTH
Being diagnosed with depression or feeling stress and anxiety can often cause a loss of interest in sex and intimacy. If this is the case, you might like to find other ways of being physically close and intimate with your partner, like spending time hugging, kissing and touching instead. This may also be reassuring for your partner.
There are many advantages to being sexually active which are physical, psychological, emotional and relational in nature. Endorphins (chemicals in the brain) are released when we are sexually active. They can elevate our mood and act as destressors in our bodies. In the context of a relationship, being sexually active can help to maintain a couple’s connection, which can be very important when one partner has a diagnosis of a serious illness, such as cancer.
It may be difficult for some people to discuss sexual health with others, even their partners, as it is a sensitive topic. But for you, and your partner, its important that you bring up sexual side effects with your provider, just as you would any other side effect. Asking questions such as:
- Will there be any side effects of this treatment?
- What are the long term effects of this treatment/procedure?
Mental health is very important to your overall health and well-being. Eating a well balanced diet will keep your brain healthy and functioning well for years to come. Ways in which to help promote that include:
- Omega- three fatty acids found in fish oils help prevent mental decline. These can be found in cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines. Omega-three fatty acids are also found in nuts and oils like canola, flaxseed , olive , and peanut . Nuts also contain vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant.
- Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, eggplants, and dark fruits such as berries, oranges and grapes. These have high levels of antioxidants, which protect the brain from free radical formation.
- Supplements like vitamins B-12; C, E, and folate may also help maintain a healthy brain.
- Avoid saturated fats and high cholesterol foods.