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    What Types Of Mental Issues Do Men Face?

    Men and women struggle with the same mental health issues. However, in the U.S., gender stereotypes carry expectations for men to be stoic, self-reliant, dominant, and unwavering. Failing to consider individual personalities, cultural backgrounds, lifestyles, and more, these stereotypes discourage many men with mental health issues from speaking up and seeking help.

    Read on to learn about the stigma standing in the way of men’s mental health, the most common mental illnesses affecting men, ways to be proactive about mental health, and more. 

    Stopping The Stigma: Men’s Mental Health 

    About 18.1% of men in the U.S. have a diagnosable mental illness in any given year, according to a 2021 national survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). However, less than half (40%) of these men receive treatment, which suggests the true number of men with mental health issues may be higher. 

    For many men, the idea of being treated for a mental health disorder directly conflicts with gender stereotypes. While the stereotype in America is for men to be self-reliant and emotionally unshakable, mental health treatment requires a person to acknowledge there is a problem, have the willingness to express their emotions or learn how to do so, and rely on guidance from professionals like therapists and psychiatrists. 

    Many men will likely recall hearing phrases like “suck it up,” “tough it out,” and “man up” during their upbringing; sentiments that continue to influence their present-day thinking. Because of stigma, some men consider treatment a sign of weakness, according to research shared by the American Psychological Association (APA). Unfortunately, these stereotypes may contribute to tragic circumstances. 

    According to the American Journal of Men’s Health, adhering to the cultural norms of masculinity can have many negative long-term effects. 

    Some of the long-term effects of masculinity on men’s mental health include:

    • greater psychological distress
    • increased physical health risks
    • substance abuse
    • worsening depression and anxiety

    Some progress has been made with normalizing mental health issues and related treatment, but as a society we still have a long way to go. 

    Mental health professionals work with people of all genders, ages, cultural backgrounds, religions, education levels, and tiers of professionalism to help them improve their life quality. This is because mental illness doesn’t discriminate. It can affect anyone, anywhere, and at any time in life. The human experience can be complex and hard, and it’s equally so for all genders. There is nothing wrong with seeking help and getting support.

    Most Common Mental Health Conditions Affecting Men 

    Though men are affected by any type of mental illness, the following mental health issues are among the most common.


    Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness (SMI) characterized by psychosis, or the inability to distinguish reality from fantasy. One of the leading causes of disability worldwide, schizophrenia may involve delusions, hallucinations, and/or unorganized behaviors and speech, and more.

    About 3.7 million people have schizophrenia in the U.S., according to research data from an RTI International study. Men over age 30 make up about 90% of all cases. Schizophrenia presents earlier in men (teen years) than in women (early adulthood), and men are known to have more severe symptoms than women. 


    Depression is a mental illness categorized by persistent low mood and intrusive thoughts that affect how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. More than 6 million men suffer from depression each year, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA). Most of these diagnoses go unnoticed. Further, while women are four times more likely to be diagnosed with depression, men are nearly four times more likely to commit suicide. 

    Anxiety Disorders

    Anxiety disorders involve extreme, excessive, and pervasive fear and worry about day-to-day circumstances. Nearly 15% of men have a diagnosable anxiety disorder each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The ADAA reports that more than 3 million men suffer from panic disorder, agoraphobia, social phobia, or another type of phobia. 

    Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness that affects some people who experience or witness a terrifying event. It can develop after a single event or a series of events. About 4% of all men will experience PTSD in their lives, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Men with PTSD can suffer personality changes and mood fluctuations, among other symptoms. 

    Bipolar Disorder

    Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by extreme mood swings that fluctuate between mania and depression, or highs and lows. About 2.4 million people, or less than 1% of the U.S. population, have bipolar disorder, according to ADAA. Unlike many other mental health conditions, bipolar disorder affects both men and women equally. However, men tend to experience symptoms of bipolar disorder sooner than women do, and they are more likely to experience mania over depression, among other differences. 

    Symptoms Of Mental Illness In Men

    Symptoms of mental illness are similar in men and women, but may present slightly differently. 

    Some of the more common symptoms of men’s mental health issues include: 

    • anger, aggression, or irritability 
    • declines in personal hygiene and appearance 
    • feelings of fear, worry, and/or impending doom 
    • increased isolation
    • intrusive thought patterns that interfere with work and/or interpersonal relationships 
    • noticeable and sometimes sudden changes in mood and/or energy 
    • partaking in high-risk and/or compulsive activities, e.g., gambling, sexual behaviors, speeding, spending money, etc. 
    • persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and/or defeat 
    • physical symptoms, e.g., headaches or digestive issues 
    • substance abuse 
    • suicidal thoughts and/or attempts 
    • trouble sleeping or excessive sleepiness 
    • weight gain or weight loss
    • working compulsively  

    Repercussions Of Untreated Mental Illness In Men

    Men with mental health issues are more likely to exhibit externalizing symptoms, while women experience more internalizing behaviors, according to a study published in the American Journal of Men’s Health. For example, while women are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, men are more likely to demonstrate aggressive, violent, and/or risky behaviors and/or drug and alcohol abuse. 

    Left untreated, mental illness in men can increase their risk of the following:

    • accidents 
    • arrests
    • chronic pain 
    • declining physical health due to conditions that are left untreated or aren’t consistently treated, e.g., heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. 
    • disability 
    • homelessness 
    • hospitalization
    • incarceration
    • long-term substance abuse 
    • premature death
    • suicide
    • unemployment 

    Men’s mental health issues, left untreated, will continue to worsen. Symptoms can intensify over time or seemingly all at once. 

    Seeking Treatment For Men’s Mental Health

    Men with mental health conditions can live full, enriching, and satisfying lives with the proper treatment. An array of interventions can be used to help people learn how to live with a mental illness and reduce the intensity of symptoms, such as a combination of therapy, medication, and managing physical health. 

    In order to see improvements, men with mental health issues must take the first step, which is simply to take action by seeking information. 

    Taking action may come in the form of: 

    • speaking with friends or family about mental health issues
    • meeting with a healthcare professional 
    • scheduling a meeting with a therapist 
    • calling a helpline
    • attending a self-help group

    It can be tempting to search online for information regarding mental health as an attempt to self-diagnose. However, mental health is complex and requires a proper assessment and evaluation from a licensed professional. 

    It is possible to suffer from co-occurring disorders, where a physical disorder may be contributing to a mental illness and vice versa. It’s also possible that a substance use disorder may have triggered symptoms of mental illness, or a person has begun abusing drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with an undiagnosed mental illness. Licensed healthcare professionals, like therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists, are trained to consider variables such as these and connect clients to the proper resources they need. 

    Services Are Available To Support Your Mental Health 

    If you are ready to take the next step in your mental health journey, contact Ark Behavioral Health for more information.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Article Sources

    American Journal Of Men’s Mental Health - Males And Mental Health Stigma
    American Journal Of Men’s Mental Health - Reviewing The Assumptions About Men’s Mental Health: An Exploration Of The Gender Binary
    American Psychological Association (APA) - Helping Men To Help Themselves
    Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) - Men’s Mental Health
    National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI) - PTSD Is More Likely In Women Than Men
    National Institute Of Mental Health - Any Anxiety Disorder
    RTI International - New Study Finds At Least Twice As Many U.S. Adults Experience Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders Than Previously Thought
    Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) - 2021 National Survey On Drug Use And Health (NSDUH) Releases

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