March 18, 2023 | 12:30 p.m
Men account for about 80% of all suicides with depression being a component of most of them. Depression in men is increasing, rapidly, but current psychotherapy treatments usually fail to distinguish between what works best for each sex. That has to change if we want to keep men mentally fit — and alive!
The crisis of masculinity is real.
Men make up 49% of the population, but almost 80% of all suicides.
Every 13.7 minutes a the man takes his own life somewhere in the US Depression is present in at least 50% of these suicides, according to the Canadian Center for Suicide Prevention.
Along with medication, psychological therapy can help alleviates the symptoms of depression.
But less for men.
This is because we seem to have bad depression.
Men and women see the world very differently; their brains are literally wired differently.
And this means that men and women also suffer from depression in different ways.
There was a time when the American Psychological Association (APA), the organization responsible for accrediting psychologists in the US, appeared open about the idea of ”male-based depression”.
In 2005, the APA noted that those in the psychological community “were coming to believe that traditional signs of depression (sadness, worthlessness, excessive guilt) may not represent many men’s experience of a depressive episode.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the “sex is a construct” narrative began to gain traction, and the APA began to deny that the differences between genders actually exist.
Shortly thereafter, the APA decided to label the qualities associated with traditional masculinity as “Psychologically harmful.”
Having effectively turned his back for men, is it any wonder that the current system is ill-equipped to help the men of America?
Which brings us back to the idea of ”male-based depression.” Adam Lane Smitha licensed psychotherapist who specializes in treating men and women says that male depression tends to revolve around feelings of helplessness and powerlessness.
“Men need the ability to change their environment, create an impact that lasts (a legacy) and either stop their pain or make it have purpose,” he explained.
They are less interested in validating their feelings and more interested in finding a solution.
They want answers and they want them now.
Female depression, on the other hand, “tends to center around feeling unloved or useless to the people you love,” Smith noted. “Women need to feel cared for, valued and useful.”
For men, feeling unable to positively influence their environment seems to be the prelude to deep depression.
“First,” Smith said, “they start to feel powerless in these areas, that they can never get out of these negative feelings.”
Then, after some time, he added, “suicidal feelings started”.
Smith’s words are especially troubling because the rate of depression in men is now increasing dramatically.
If given the choice, men tend to prefer talking to her a male therapist.
This has nothing to do with sexism.
The data confirm that men only answers better for male therapists than for female therapists.
Sadly, there simply aren’t enough male therapists to choose from.
Almost two-thirds of psychologists in the United States they are women.
Eighty percent of clinical psychologists are women.
About 75% of psychology majors they are women.
This is one reason why therapy is failing in men.
Another reason is that most therapy sessions focus on creating men smelt rather, “lovelier and more connected,” notes Smith.
However, the vast majority of the time, he said, men feel powerless, “so making them feel loved while they’re still powerless makes them feel more of a burden, not less of a burden”.
In other words, we are trying to treat male-based depression using female-oriented approaches.
And this is likely to make male therapy patients feel even worse.
Which begs the question: What, if anything, can be done?
First of all, it is time for the wider psychology community to reverse course and acknowledge that there are biological differences – both for the physical body and the immaterial mind. “
A one-size-fits-all approach is…[not] it’s going to turn the tide against the suicide epidemic, the drug epidemic, or any other mental health-based issue that’s currently getting worse,” explains Smith.
To get men out of their ruts, they must not only be made to feel better, but actually achieve impactful and meaningful results.
This should be the end game of any mental health treatment.
Because to truly address male suffering, we must first accept the idea that a man’s pain is often nothing like its female counterpart.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or are experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free, confidential crisis counseling. If you live outside the five boroughs, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 988 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.
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