Are you at a breaking point where all factors of your life feel out of control, but you don’t know where to start piecing it all back together? Do you find yourself without the words to communicate what you’re feeling, or do you feel out of touch with your emotions completely? You’re most likely facing a mental health issue. You may feel isolated and alone in your suffering, but you are actually one in many. Burnout, anxiety, depression, and other struggles are common in men, but men are far less likely to seek the support they need to move forward.
If you, too, find yourself uncomfortable with seeking help, it’s not your fault. From deeply ingrained societal standards, to familial expectations, to childhood trauma, there’s a lot stacked against you. This Men’s Health Month, we’re discussing why you may feel hesitant to explore your mental health and how these common concerns might be showing up in your life.
This is your reminder that men’s mental health is important. This is your invitation to check in on your health, mental and physical, because you deserve to feel whole, happy, and healed.
Why Does it Feel So Wrong to Ask for Help?
Since you could remember, chances are that you’ve been pushed to act “tough,” not show emotions or cry, and take a hit and just keep going. Maybe men’s mental health is a topic that you haven’t thought about at all because you’ve been conditioned to avoid thinking about your feelings entirely. Perhaps the generations of men before you passed down their ideas of what it means to be a man – a “strong” facade that actually just forces you to bury hurts, traumas, and parts of you deep below the surface. In many communities, there is social value in living as this type of man and real consequences for being seen as “weak.” However, those of us in the mental health community know that true strength lies in authenticity and vulnerability. When you do the work to uncover what you’ve been hiding, you will be able to more freely be there for others in your life, express who you are, and simply be the uninhibited version of yourself.
Some men fear seeking support because they think a mental health diagnosis could impact their job or career. There are often practical concerns that underlie these fears. For example, in some types of military, police, or government roles, which are commonly held by men, a security clearance or firearm permit is required. Seeking therapy could mean a mental health diagnosis, and the fear is that their clearance or permit could be taken away, threatening their livelihood. However, in most cases, this would be considered discrimination and is illegal. Having a mental, emotional, or personality disorder in the past or present does not disqualify an individual from obtaining or maintaining a security clearance.
What Could Mental Illness Look Like in Your Life?
Symptoms of common issues like burnout, depression, anxiety, and ADHD can vary based on gender and age. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms that apply to you, so you can accurately reflect on your circumstances and seek the appropriate support.
Physical Changes Can Point to Emotional or Mental Imbalance
As you explore how you’re feeling, you may notice physiological symptoms first. You might have been wondering why you feel overly exhausted all the time, or notice changes in your sleep routine, libido, or appetite. Chronic pain, body aches, headaches, or stomach issues can be the result of a wide range of problems, including poor mental health.
Could You Be Burnt Out?
Burnout is the result of stress over time, and is often related to pressure at work, lack of support, poor work-life balance, or generally carrying more than you can handle in any aspect of your life.
If you’ve reached burnout, some of the major signs include exhaustion, constantly low energy levels, decreased productivity, feeling detached or distant, or losing interest in hobbies or spending time with family and friends. You might even find yourself turning to substances to improve your performance or numb negative emotions.
Signs of Depression in Men
You’re most likely familiar with depression – you’ve seen the antidepressant commercials of hopeless people looking out the window, wishing to feel like their old selves again. But, it doesn’t always feel like this – signs of depression in men can look and feel different.
While depression in women often appears as inward-facing sadness and stress, in men it can look like outward frustration and anger. You might see yourself feeling increasingly irritated and lashing out at people or situations around you. Negative coping strategies, like drugs or alcohol, constant distraction with media, or risky behaviors like reckless driving, are commonly turned to during depressive episodes to mask or numb underlying feelings.
Anxiety Symptoms in Men
On a physiological level, anxiety symptoms in men might include restlessness, muscle tension, headaches, stomachaches, chest tightness, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, or trembling.
Mentally, anxiety can lead to difficulty concentrating or making decisions, avoiding situations that make you feel anxious, irritability or anger, and social isolation. You may feel yourself suppressing your emotions, which makes you feel even worse and increasingly anxious.
Support for Burnout, Anxiety and Depression in Encino
At Kirstin Carl Therapy, I understand the importance of men’s mental health and am here to support you in breaking through the patterns you’ve faced your entire life. Together, we’ll decipher which signs of depression or other mental health issues are showing up in your life and pave a path to a happier, more authentic life.
Let’s get started.