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When we think of drug addiction and mental illness, we rarely differentiate between the sexes. However, while these illnesses can impact individuals of all types, addiction, depression and other psychological disorders affect men and women in vastly different ways.
When it comes to addiction, for example, men typically abuse drugs and alcohol for different reasons than women, and also respond differently to various treatment methods. Likewise, while women suffer from depression in greater numbers, depression among men is often more severe, and is more likely to result in suicide and other life-threatening complications.
Keep reading for more on mental illness and addiction in men, including information on causes, effects and available treatment options.
Men and Mental Illness
The idea of mental illness among men is nothing new; however, traditionally speaking, awareness concerning mental health issues has focused mostly on females. The reason behind this lack awareness of men’s mental health lies primarily in the social stigmas associated with mental illness; though men suffer from psychological distress just as often as women, they are less likely to seek treatment for fear of being seen as less masculine. Plus, men are more prone to focus on physical health issues, as opposed to those relating to psychological health.
Gender can also play a major role in the symptoms of mental illness. For example, men suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other illnesses typically display behaviors like the following:
•Social withdrawal, which includes spending more and more time at work or away from the home.
•Risky behaviors, such as reckless driving, gambling, driving under the influence, having unprotected sex, etc.
•Irritability, anger or other dramatic shifts in mood.
•Using drugs or drinking alcohol in excess.
Unfortunately, even when confronted with these and other symptoms, many men are reluctant to seek treatment for mental illness. Thankfully, though, with the proper healthcare and support, men suffering from depression and other disorders can learn to overcome social stigmas, and build the coping skills necessary to better psychological health and enhanced quality of life.
Men and Addiction
When it comes to substance abuse, men abuse drugs and alcohol more frequently, use larger amounts, and are more likely to experience physical and psychological dependence. What’s more, men typically use addictive substances to enhance good feelings or have a good time, and as a means of self-medicating the symptoms of mental illness. For this reason, addiction and mental health are inextricably linked.
Because of the link between addiction and mental health, effective rehabilitation is often multi-faceted. Dual diagnosis treatment centers for men offer therapies to treat underlying mental illness, as well as address the effects of substance abuse and addiction. For example, comprehensive addiction treatment typically includes the following methods, which, combined, help men uncover the source of their problems with drugs and alcohol, and significantly improve the odds of a successful recovery.
•Medication. In addressing mental illness, medication is often necessary. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs and mood stabilizers can help improve mental health, and reduce the need to self-medicate uncomfortable symptoms.
•Counseling. Talk therapy can help in treating both addiction and mental illness. During counseling sessions, patients learn to identify and modify unhealthy thoughts and behaviors in the interest of sobriety and improved mental health. Group counseling is also beneficial, as it encourages open communication and the giving and receiving of support and accountability.
•Aftercare. When it comes to long-term health and sobriety, followup treatment is especially important. This type of care typically involves continued counseling and group therapy, both of which can prevent relapse and promote enhanced health and quality of life.
Although addiction and mental illness affect men and women, alike, men with these disorders are presented with unique circumstances and obstacles. Thankfully, though, with prompt, professional care, the challenges associated with mental illness and drug addiction can be overcome. If you or someone you love is suffering the effects of mental illness or addiction, don’t wait: get help today, and start laying the groundwork for a brighter, healthier tomorrow.