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Men’s Mental Health: Why “Man Up” Isn’t the Answer

By: Erin Coleman, B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.,

Writer at The Fit Father Project

men's mental health

Men's mental health is an important part of your overall well-being, as depression and anxiety affect nearly 10% of men in the United States.

This isn't about “sucking it up.” “Man up” is not the answer.

Mental health issues can be dangerous when left untreated.

Knowing more about depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders, and how to overcome them, is important.

Here's what you need to know about men's mental health.

Learn more about how health and mental clarity are connected.

This video will show you the keys to staying positive during hopeless times!

The Stigma Around Men's Mental Health

Feeling depressed, anxious, or fearful is nothing to be ashamed about.

These and other mental health issues are common, and sometimes serious.

Don't take them lightly.

Men's mental health problems shouldn't be stigmatized either.

If you feel constant sadness or anxiousness, don't feel like less of a man or that you must overcome symptoms of mental health disorders on your own.

Seeking treatment to optimize men's mental health is often simpler than you think!

Symptoms of Mental Health Disorders

Common symptoms of men's mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder, include:

Depression

Symptoms of depression may include:

  • Constant sadness or hopelessness
  • Worthlessness or emptiness
  • Tearfulness
  • Irritability or frustration
  • Angry outbursts
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Sleeping disturbances
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Problems concentrating
  • Slowed thinking
  • Feeling guilty
  • Self-blame
  • Problems concentrating or remembering things
  • Back pain, headaches, or body aches
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts

If you are stuck in a rut, we’ll teach you exactly how to get yourself out of it.

Anxiety

Common anxiety symptoms include:

  • Feeling nervous, tense, or restless
  • A sense of danger, doom, or panic
  • An increased heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Rapid breathing
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Problems concentrating
  • Sleeping problems
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Constant worry
  • Urges to avoid anxiety triggers

Bipolar Disorder

Symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on whether you're in a depressed or manic mood. They often include:

Manic Episodes

  • Feeling upbeat, wired, or jumpy
  • Increased energy, agitation, or activity
  • Not feeling tired
  • A sense of well-being and self-confidence
  • Unusual talkativeness
  • Being easily distracted
  • Racing thoughts
  • Impulsive decision making

Depressive Episodes

  • Depression, sadness, and hopelessness
  • Emptiness or tearfulness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Sleeping problems
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Restlessness
  • Problems concentrating
  • Thinking about or attempting suicide

Are you dealing with a lack of support? Find out how to overcome it!

Substance Abuse

The following signs and symptoms may indicate substance abuse:

  • Sleeping problems
  • Depression
  • Withdrawal symptoms upon quitting
  • Inability to quit using substances despite a desire to
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Problems at work
  • Impaired judgment or decision making
  • Frequent accidents
  • Paranoia
  • Moodiness

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Signs and symptoms often associated with post-traumatic stress disorder include:

  • Recurrent, distressing memories of past events
  • Reliving past traumatic events
  • Upsetting dreams or nightmares
  • Severe emotional distress
  • Avoiding things that remind you of trauma
  • Depressed thoughts
  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Memory problems
  • Relationship issues or social isolation
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Being easily frightened or startled
  • Always being on guard for danger
  • Substance abuse
  • Sleeping problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Angry outbursts or irritability
  • Guilt or shame

Make lifestyle changes or check in with your doctor about ways to reduce symptoms of men's mental health disorders if you can't shake these symptoms on your own.

In this video, we reveal why life balance is the TRUE KEY to staying healthy.

Risk Factors for Mental Health Problems

Anybody can develop depression, anxiety, or other men's mental health problems but certain factors increase your risk of experiencing them.

Examples include genetics, personal or family history of mental health disorders, traumatic or stressful life events, abusing alcohol or recreational drugs, taking certain medications, and having a long-lasting or serious illness or disease — such as a stroke, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or chronic pain.

You might develop situational symptoms after a death in the family, job loss, divorce, abuse, chronic disease diagnosis, or a traumatic life event.

Ways to Reduce Mental Health Disorder Symptoms

If you suspect you have a men's mental health disorder and want to reduce or eliminate unpleasant symptoms, consider the following:

Get Regular Exercise

Exercise is a natural endorphin and mood booster, so work regular exercise into your everyday routine whenever possible.

Aim for at least 30 minutes of planned exercise every day.

If weight loss is your goal, bump up your cardio to 30-60 minutes per day.

Combine cardiovascular exercise with resistance training to optimize your results, maintain lean mass, boost strength, and keep your energy levels high.

Exercise outdoors to further boost your mood and reduce stress, depression, and anxiety.

Recruit friends or family members to join you to maximize your family's health and wellness, and spend quality time together!

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best ways to keep energy levels high and stay in good spirits.

It's also an excellent way to boost your self-confidence and reduce the risk of chronic diseases commonly linked with depression.

To keep your weight within a normal range, combine a healthy diet with staying active all throughout the day — not just during scheduled exercise sessions.

Get plenty of sleep, drink at least 16 cups of water daily, reduce stress, and limit or avoid alcohol.

Steer clear of sugary drinks, sweets, fried foods, highly processed foods, fast food, white bread, and other refined grains.

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Eat the Right Foods

Eating healthy foods is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy weight and improve your mood if you experience symptoms of a mental health disorder.

Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and nutritious protein foods (eggs, chicken, turkey, shrimp, other types of seafood, cottage cheese, low-fat milk, protein shakes, low-sugar protein bars, etc.).

Choose whole grains, dried beans, peas, other legumes, and heart-healthy fats (olive oil, fatty fish, avocados, olives, hummus, nuts, seeds, nut butters, etc.).

Fill half of each plate of food with lower-calorie vegetables and the other half with protein foods and fiber-rich starches.

Cook at home as much as you can and save dining out for special occasions.

This video will explain and breakdown the relationship between food and your body.

Try Stress-Relieving Strategies

Stress is often a contributor to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other men's health issues.

Take time for yourself to unwind and relax after a long, busy day.

Spend time outdoors, go for a walk, get a massage, take a hot bath, or simply rest in a quiet room with a book or movie.

Consider stretching, yoga, tai chi, meditation, getting in touch with your spirituality, journaling, new hobbies, breathing exercises, or other relaxation techniques.

These at-home stress relief techniques are 5 simple ways to reduce stress!

Consider Counseling

Traumatic life events, such as job loss, a divorce, death in the family, or a chronic disease diagnosis, can take a toll on your physical and mental health.

If making healthy lifestyle changes haven't worked to improve your mood or relieve anxiety, talk with your doctor about counseling options.

Individual, group, or family counseling can help you learn behavioral changes and other coping strategies to fight feelings of guilt, shame, sadness, fear, anxiousness, or constant sadness.

If you've experienced recent trauma, counseling can help you overcome grief and other emotional pain.

Online counseling is widely available and is a confidential, convenient option for men who would like to avoid in-person counseling sessions.

Maintain a Social Support Network

Having a strong social support network is a key component of optimal men's mental health.

Surround yourself with friends and family members you can spend time with, count on, and turn to for companionship and moral support.

If you don't have family or close friends nearby, consider joining a church group, volunteer group, community sports team, or a support group to chat with and spend time with other people in your community.

Get involved in virtual or in-person activities to avoid spending time alone.

Consider joining the Fit Father Project healthy lifestyle program specifically designed for busy dads over 40.

When you sign up, you receive access to private fit dad social media groups and email coaching support from health experts.

You also gain access to custom meal plans, workouts, recipes, weekly newsletters, and other tools needed to get and stay healthy for life.

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Talk with Your Doctor about Medications

If adopting healthy lifestyle habits and counseling or support groups haven't worked for you, check in with your doctor about taking medications that boost your mood, relieve anxiety, and improve your overall quality of life.

They can develop a personalized medication regimen based on your medical history, symptoms, lifestyle, and preferences, to help you enjoy life to its fullest!

For optimal results, your doctor might recommend you combine lifestyle changes with counseling with medications.

Get Your Hormones Checked

Hormone imbalance, particularly low thyroid hormone or low testosterone (also known as low T) in men can negatively affect your mood.

Low T is common among men, especially those over 40. In fact, nearly 40% of men age 45 and older experience it.

Your doctor can diagnose low T after reviewing the results of a simple blood test.

If your hormone levels aren't balanced, they may recommend you undergo hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

HRT might consist of nasal or topical gels, patches, implantable pellets, injections, or gum and cheek putty to increase testosterone levels in your body and improve your mood, energy levels, and lean body mass.

It also helps prevent undesirable weight gain over time.

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Stay Busy

Stay busy to keep your mind off feelings of anxiety, depression, or urges to misuse drugs and alcohol.

Find a hobby, sign up to volunteer, join a gym or an online workout group, keep your body moving all throughout the day, and spend a lot of time outdoors if you can!

Plan a vacation, spend time with friends and family members, and fill your schedule with activities you enjoy.

Always reserved time in your day-to-day routine to relax, and get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

Take Your Vitamins Regularly

Believe it or not, certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies are linked with mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and obsessive mannerisms.

For example, a deficiency in vitamin B, vitamin D, zinc, and other essential nutrients can trigger symptoms associated with mental health struggles.

To avoid negative side effects linked with vitamin and mineral deficiencies, eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy foods, other protein-rich foods, and heart-healthy fats.

Take a multivitamin supplement designed for men in your age category, containing essential vitamins and minerals needed to optimize energy levels and your overall health.

Ask your doctor to evaluate your vitamin and mineral levels using blood tests periodically, to find out if you're deficient in any essential nutrients.

If so, your provider may recommend you take specific vitamin or mineral supplements in addition to a multivitamin.

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Spend More Time Outdoors

Spending time outdoors is a natural way to boost your mood.

According to numerous research studies, exposure to natural environments (such as green space) is linked with lower levels of stress and symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Getting outside can also boost your vitamin D levels, which may reduce your risk of depression since your body uses sunlight to make vitamin D.

Get outside whenever you have a chance.

Exercise outdoors, go for a walk or bike ride with your family, do yard work, or simply relax outdoors when you can!

Many overlook the importance of light in our life. Learn why you should get more sunlight!

Join a Men's Health Program

To achieve optimal men's mental health, in addition to exceptional physical health, sign up for a men's health program — such as the Fit Father Project.

Upon doing so, you receive health coaching support from medical experts, fit dad social media support, custom meal plans, fat-burning and muscle-building workouts, recipes, a weekly newsletter, and much more!

With the help of experts and a structured program to follow, your chance of staying healthy and happy drastically increases.

In addition to eating healthy foods, exercising daily, getting plenty of sleep, maintaining a social support network, taking your vitamins, relieving stress, and seeing your doctor or therapist as needed, allow the Fit Father Project community to help you through tough times if you struggle with a men's mental health disorder!

Erin Coleman B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer at The Fit Father Project

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on men's mental health.

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