Men’s Mental Health: 6 Signs You’re Overlooking Your Mental Health--From a Therapist
Mental health is a popular topic these days. The good news is, the stigma surrounding it doesn’t seem to be as strong as it once was, even 5 years ago.
While this shows we’re heading in the right direction, there’s still some lingering stigma surrounding a particular group..
Yep, you guessed it, the guys.
It’s not that men don’t want to get help, it’s more to do with our culture telling them they “shouldn’t need it”. Unfortunately, there’s still some pretty black and white thinking when it comes to men and showing weakness. The sad reality is, this belief can prevent men that would greatly benefit from mental health support, from gaining the tools they need to thrive in their relationships, work, and overall lives.
And the consequences are high, in the US alone only one-third of those seeking therapy are men, and many times those who seek help wait to do so until they’re in crisis. Even worse, suicide rates for men are 3.5 times higher than they are for women.
So to continue the conversation about decreasing unnecessary stigma surrounding men’s mental health and wellness, we wanted to give you guys a few things to look for signaling you may be overlooking your mental health.
Here’s 6 signs you may be overlooking your mental health:
1. You’re getting angry over “small things”
Anger is an important emotion. It tells us something that matters to us has been violated or disrespected. It can also be a “secondary emotion” covering up hurt or fear. But when we find ourselves responding disproportionately to the actual situation at hand, this can be a good sign we’re bottling up other emotions (and the energy HAS to go somewhere!)
These “overreactions” are not really overreactions at all. It’s your body telling you there’s underlying loss, fear, grief, or sadness being stored up inside.
The problem with this however, is if we don’t check in with these parts of us that are feeling loss or fear, we can end up hurting those around us with these moments of intense anger.
In therapy, you can take a deeper look into what else could be contributing to your reactions, and give yourself the space you need to feel, process, and move forward.
2. You feel out of control of your anger, fear, or sadness
This is a continuation from what I outlined above, but when we feel out of control of our emotions (aka “flooded”), we can get stuck in patterns of releasing these emotions that do not serve us in the long run. Again, anger, fear, and sadness are very real and important to feel and express, but when they get to a tipping point where they feel uncontrollable, seeking help can be a great option to slow these down and find out what beliefs could be driving these spirals.
You might be surprised how even one session could significantly reduce the intensity of these feelings over time.
3. You’re self-critical to a point of self-loathing
We’re all self-critical at times. But when it gets to a place where you find yourself truly believing and agreeing with that voice in your head that tells you you’re the worst, it’s going to interfere with your daily life and keep you stuck. Getting unstuck on your own is one of the hardest things you can try to do when you’re in the thick of it. Seeking outside help is a great way to have someone else see what you may not be able to in the moment, and give you the insight and steps you need to get out of the rut of self-loathing.
4. You’re not talking to anyone about your internal experience (thoughts, emotions, fears, grief)
Ask yourself if you have at least one good friend, partner, mentor, parent, coach, or coworker in your life that you can truly trust and open up to. If you have this person in your life, do you actually tell them about your internal experience? If you’re having a hard time do you let them know? It’s not only “if” we have this person in our lives, it’s if we choose to allow them to support us. If the answer is no to any of these questions, a therapist is a great option! A great opportunity in therapy is to practice talking to someone about these topics, and in turn, replicating this with those you trust in your inner circle so you can start building a support system around you.
5. You’re noticing physical side effects as a result of stress or low mood (trouble sleeping or staying asleep, trouble getting out of bed, trouble focusing, racing heart, sweating, shaking, tightness in chest, feeling the need to cope with substances, etc.)
The body is amazing at letting us know what’s going on for us mentally and emotionally. If we don’t listen to our emotions, our body will say it louder in other ways. (aka stop ignoring me!). If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, do a quick “body scan”. Ask yourself if any physical symptoms have been showing up for you and try your best to assess if they have any association with your stress levels, mood, or thoughts. Because this can be a final attempt for your body to let you know something’s up, do yourself a favor and listen!
6. You feel a need to use substances to calm yourself down, avoid, or numb out.
Be honest with yourself. Check your motivation when consuming a substance. When we feel out of control, anxious, depressed, or bored and turning to a substance sounds inviting it’s a good time to check in and see what’s going on. Learning how to build resiliency to uncomfortable or difficult emotions isn’t easy, but with the help of a therapist and possibly additional support, you can build up this muscle and find freedom in discovering how to cope aside from substances.
When we discover ways to process through our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, regulating and significantly reducing these symptoms listed above is more than possible.
I hope these have been helpful for you in identifying if seeking help could be a good option for you, and that you know nothing is “wrong” with you for doing so.
Asking for help is actually one of the bravest things you can do, and I promise that working on
yourself now is a gift to your future self and relationships!
You’ve got this!
Elizabeth Tullis, MFT
A Little Bit About the Author:
Elizabeth is a psychotherapist in New York City and has a passion for de-stigmatizing mental health and opening up conversations to make people feel normal about reaching out for help.