Healthy Living

Breaking the Stigma: Mental Health in Men

Nov 12 2021

Mental health in men is an important topic. About six million men suffer from depression each year. And according to the American Psychological Association, more than 30 percent of men have suffered from depression at some period in their life, a similar rate to that in women.

Despite these facts, men are less likely to address their mental health issues compared to their female counterparts.

“When comparing the prevalence of mental health disorders between genders, we know women have a higher rate of being treated,” says Lewis Spirtos, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist and physician in our Youngstown market.

These mental health issues may include generalized anxiety, panic disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder, to name a few. Additionally, a weakened mental state may also lead to physical issues down the line.

“Psychological distress can have bodily manifestations that may lead to a variety of unexplained physical symptoms,” Dr. Spirtos says. “Untreated mental health issues can worsen long-term physical conditions such as chronic pain or high blood pressure.”

When it comes to why men are less likely to address their mental health issues, Dr. Spirtos believes it has to do with social stigmas. Men tend to equate seeking treatment as a sign of weakness.

“I think the reasons for this are multifactorial and heavily embedded with the expectations society has on gender,” he says.

With this in mind, Dr. Spirtos wants to encourage men to be vulnerable. He wants men to see reaching out for professional help as a sign of courage.

“It’s important that men know a wide variety of treatments are available for mental health,” Dr. Spirtos shares. 

The main care approaches for mental health are psychopharmacology, or medication, and psychotherapy, which includes counseling. In some cases, a combination of the two may be most effective.

Self-care also plays a critical role in maintaining physical and emotional health. This includes regular sleep, a healthy diet and exercise. And, most importantly, it includes meaningful time with loved ones and spirituality.

If you’re feeling like it’s time to talk to someone about your mental health, start with your primary care provider. Our primary care providers are available and ready to help every step of the way.

Also, learn more about the behavioral and mental health services we offer at Mercy Health. 

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