Men's Health

Mental Health

Men face a unique set of challenges when it comes to managing their mental wellbeing, with the associated stigma (of shame and embarrassment) often preventing them from seeking help and taking action.

•    1 in 5 men will experience a mental health issue this year
•    Depression affects 840,000 men every year in Canada
•    2800 Canadian men commit suicide each year
•    4 out of 5 suicides among young people in Canada are committed by men, despite men’s lower - reported rates of depression
•    Men’s depression is currently ranked third in terms of disease burden in high-income countries such as Canada.
 
Depression     Anxiety     Psychosis     Schizophrenia     Resources



DEPRESSION

What is depression?
Depression is more than just a low mood – it’s a serious illness. Depression affects how you think and feel about yourself. You may lose interest in work, hobbies and doing things you normally enjoy. You may lack energy, have difficulty sleeping or sleep more than usual. Some people feel anxious or irritable and find it difficult to concentrate.

The good news is, just like a physical illness, depression can be managed and effective treatments are available.

Is depression in men different?
Depression in men often doesn’t look like the typical depression of low mood, anxiety, and loss of interest, as described above. Depressed men may become more irritable or angry. Their behaviour can be hostile, aggressive or even abusive. Often men will engage in risky activities, such as drunk driving or risky sexual encounters. Men will often turn to abusing alcohol or drugs. Men may also become over-involved at work or socially isolated.

Men aren’t always good about discussing their feelings, especially when it comes to sadness, depression or stress. Men instead act out with more work, drinking, and risk taking to numb or avoid the real problems they face. To many men, being “manly” means not admitting to any vulnerabilities or expressing emotions. It is these same qualities that prevent so many men from seeking help for their depression.

Are mental health issues common ?
Mental health issues are very common.

•    20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime.
•    Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds.

Are there different types of mental illnesses?
Different types of mental illness have different symptoms and may require different treatments.

Depression
The main types of depression are:
•    Major depression: a depressed mood that lasts for at least two weeks. The symptoms include a persistent sad, anxious or empty mood. Also feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness. A person may lose interest in a pleasurable activity they once enjoyed. This may also be referred to as major depressive disorder, clinical depression, unipolar depression or simply depression.
•    Melancholia: a severe form of depression where many of the physical symptoms of depression are present. One of the major changes is that the person can be observed to move more slowly. The person is also more likely to have a depressed mood that is characterised by complete loss of pleasure in everything, or almost everything.
•    Psychotic depression: a depressed mood which includes symptoms of psychosis. Psychosis involves seeing or hearing things that are not there (hallucinations), feeling everyone is against you (paranoia) and having delusions.
•    Dysthymia: a less severe depressed mood that lasts for years.
•    Mixed depression and anxiety: a combination of symptoms of depression and anxiety.
•    Bipolar disorder: formerly known as manic-depressive illness, involves periods of feeling low (depressed) and high (manic).
•    Cyclothymic disorder: a milder form of bipolar disorder which includes very short periods of normality between periods of hypomania (a mood characterized by persistent and pervasive elevated (euphoric) or extreme happiness which is sometimes followed by an irritable mood) and depressive symptoms

What makes a person more at risk of depression?
Some major events or situations have been linked with depression while others also contribute to increasing the risk for men:

  
Major Risk Factors Other Risk Factors
Previous experience of depression and/or anxiety Stress (work / financial / life)
Drug and alcohol use Partner going through pregnancy and the first 12 months of fatherhood
Serious medical illness (physical or mental) Lack of physical exercise
Isolation or loneliness Having a family member with depression
Unemployment Conflict (family / political)
  Poverty / Homelessness

   
   
   
  















   

It’s important to remember that each person is different and it is often a combination of factors that puts a person at risk of depression

What are the treatments for depression?
There is a range of treatment options available depending on the type and severity of the condition. These can vary from lifestyle interventions such as alcohol avoidance and physical exercise, through to psychological and drug treatments for more severe cases. The most important first step is to talk to someone about your feelings, stress or concerns. Whether it’s your doctor, your family, your friends, your clergy, or an anonymous person on a support line– you need to trust someone else and not manage it alone.

Who can help?
Different health professionals provide different types of services, treatments and assistance to help people on the road to recovery. It’s very important to find the right mental health professional to suit your individual needs.

A doctor is a good person with whom you can discuss your concerns in the first instance. They will be able to provide you further information along with guidance and advice about treatment options.




ANXIETY

What is anxiety?
Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried. While stress and anxious feelings are a common response to a situation where a person feels under pressure, it usually passes once the stressful situation has passed, or ‘stressor’ is removed.

Anxiety is when these anxious feelings don't subside. Anxiety is when these feelings are ongoing and exist without any particular reason or cause. It’s a serious condition that makes it hard for a person to cope with daily life. We all feel anxious from time to time, but for a person experiencing anxiety, these feelings cannot be easily controlled.

Is anxiety common?
Anxiety discorder affects 12% of the Canadian population.

What causes anxiety?
Often, it’s a combination of factors that can lead to a person developing anxiety. Some triggers include:
•    Family history of mental health problems
•    Stressful life events
•    Physical health problems
•    Heavy or long-term use of substances such as alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines or sedatives
•    Personality factors – some research suggests certain personality traits are more likely to have anxiety.

Are there different types of anxiety?
Symptoms of anxiety can often develop gradually over time. Given that we all experience some anxiety, it can be hard to know how much is too much. In order to be diagnosed with anxiety, the condition must have a disabling impact on the person’s life. There are many types of anxiety including:
•    Social phobia: characterized by an intense fear of criticism, being embarrassed or humiliated even just in common everyday situations.
•    Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): in which a person has excessive, uncontrollable, and irrational worry about everyday things, occurring most days over a period of six or more months
•    Specific phobias: a person feels very fearful about a particular object or situation and may go to great lengths to avoid the object or situation.
•    Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): a person has an ongoing unwanted/intrusive thoughts and fears that cause anxiety. Although the person may acknowledge these thoughts as silly, they find themselves trying to relieve their anxiety by carrying out certain behaviors or rituals.
•    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): can occur after a person experiences a traumatic event such as but not limited to war, assault, accident or disaster.
•    Panic disorder: a person experiences panic attacks, which are intense, overwhelming and often uncontrollable feelings of anxiety combined with a range of physical symptoms.

What types of treatment are available for anxiety?
As with depression, there are many health professionals and services available to help with information, treatment and support, and there are many things that people with anxiety can do to help themselves under the guidance of a professional.

The type of treatment will depend on the anxiety being experienced with the aim of helping the person learn how to control the condition – so that it does not control them.

Who can help?
Different health professionals provide different types of services, treatments and assistance to help people on the road to recovery. It’s very important to find the right mental health professional to suit your individual needs.

A doctor is a good person with whom you can discuss your concerns in the first instance. They will be able to provide you further information along with guidance and advice about treatment options.




PSYCHOSIS

There is a group of illnesses, which disrupt the functioning of the brain so much they cause a condition called psychosis. When someone experiences psychosis they are unable to distinguish what is real — there is a loss of contact with reality. Most people are able to recover from an episode of psychosis. The causes of psychosis are not fully understood. It is probable that some people are born with a predisposition to develop this kind of illness, and that certain things — for example, stress or use of drugs such as marijuana, LSD or speed — can trigger their first episode.

Among symptoms doctors look for are:
•    Confused thinking: When acutely ill, people with psychotic symptoms experience disordered thinking. The everyday thoughts that let us live our daily lives become confused and don’t join up properly.
•    Delusions: A delusion is a false belief held by a person, which is not held by others of the same cultural background.
•    Hallucinations: The person sees, hears, feels, smells or tastes something that is not actually there. The hallucination is often of disembodied voices which no one else can hear.

Treatment can do much to reduce and even eliminate the symptoms. Treatment should generally include a combination of medication and community support. Both are usually essential for the best outcome.

Who can help?
Different health professionals provide different types of services, treatments and assistance to help people on the road to recovery. It’s very important to find the right mental health professional to suit your individual needs.

A doctor is a good person with whom you can discuss your concerns in the first instance. They will be able to provide you further information along with guidance and advice about treatment options.




SCHIZOPHRENIA

Schizophrenia is an illness, a medical condition. It affects the normal functioning of the brain, interfering with a person’s ability to think, feel and act. Some do recover completely, and, with time, most find that their symptoms improve. Schizophrenia affects approximately 1% of the Canadian population. Most of these will be first affected in their late teens and early twenties.

If not receiving treatment, people with schizophrenia experience persistent symptoms of what is called psychosis. These include:
•    Confused thinking: When acutely ill, people with psychotic symptoms experience disordered thinking. The everyday thoughts that let us live our daily lives become confused and don’t join up properly.
•    Delusions: A delusion is a false belief held by a person which is not held by others of the same cultural background.
•    Hallucinations: The person sees, hears, feels, smells or tastes something that is not actually there. The hallucination is often of disembodied voices which no one else can hear.

Treatment can do much to reduce and even eliminate the symptoms. Treatment should generally include a combination of medication and community support. Both are usually essential for the best outcome.

Who can help?
Different health professionals provide different types of services, treatments and assistance to help people on the road to recovery. It’s very important to find the right mental health professional to suit your individual needs.

A doctor is a good person with whom you can discuss your concerns in the first instance. They will be able to provide you further information along with guidance and advice about treatment options.




RESOURCES

Things to Remember:
•    Mental health issues are common and treatable
•    Take action early – the sooner the better
•    Mental health issues are illnesses, not weaknesses, and people shouldn’t feel ashamed to talk about them and take action
•    By talking about mental illnesses, we can help raise awareness and reduce the stigma


Recommended Mental Health websites:
www.cmha.ca
Canadian Mental Health Association promotes the mental health of all and supports resilience and recovery of people experiencing mental illness.

www.partnersformh.ca
A national, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the way we think about, act towards and treat mental health.

www.mentalhealthcanada.com
Mental Health Canada is a national comprehensive directory of Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Psychoanalysts, Counsellors, and Psychotherapists searchable by professional designation, gender and location.
 
www.youthrive.ca
You Thrive is a bilingual online resource for youth that uses a health promotion to support positive mental health.

For Movember’s list of men's health sources, please email: info.ca@movember.com