Mental health problems may exhibit themselves in different ways - depressive or anxious symptoms may be common, as well as a difficulty in managing emotions. The afflicted may hold disruptive or negative thought patterns, a sense of low self-esteem and have problems socialising or maintaining relationships. They could even engage in self-harm or display suicidal thoughts or actions.
Men with anxiety are more likely to die of cancerA new large-scale study tracking 15,938 Britons aged over 40 for 15 years has found that men over 40 with a diagnosis of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) are more than twice as likely (2.15 times) to die of cancer than are men who do not have the mental affliction. This increase in risk is not found among women with the same affliction.
The study took account of factors that boost the risk of cancer, including age, alcohol consumption, smoking and chronic diseases.
GAD is characterised by persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things, and affects women more commonly than it does men. Among women in the cohort studied, 2.4% suffered from the disorder, compared to 1.8% of the male cohort.
The results do not reveal how cancer and anxiety are related, nor do they prove in any way that anxiety is a cause of cancer, as men with anxiety may engage in behaviours that increase cancer risk. However, experts say the findings support speculation that bodily stress caused by mental stress in GAD patients goes on to weaken functions such as the immune system.
According to lead author Olivia Remes of Cambridge University’s Institute of Public Health, the implication is that “Society may need to consider anxiety as a warning signal for poor health.”
Depressed men more likely to succeed in suicide attempts than womenMen are more likely to die when they attempt suicide, according to multiple researches. In Britain alone, men make up 75% of deaths due to suicide, even though women are more likely to suffer from depression, and to attempt to take their own life.
The first factor could be method – men are more likely to choose violent ways of committing suicide. Women tend to try to commit suicide via overdosing, while men choose firearms or hanging, which are more likely to result in death.
Nevertheless, this does not fully explain the observation that men are still more likely than women to die even when both genders try to kill themselves using the same method. Instead, men are more likely to have "the acquired capability for suicide", although there are always exceptions to the rule. Discovered by professor Gopikrishna Deshpande and his team from Auburn University, four traits are involved: fearlessness of death, pain tolerance, emotional stoicism and sensation seeking.
Men handle emotions differently from womenIt is common knowledge that women tend to emote more than men, who prefer to hold their feelings in. This is generally due to a combination of societal and behavioural factors.
The first is well-known – society tends to expect men to be stoic, and showing feelings is a sign of weakness in men. Generally speaking, men tend to process their emotions inwardly. This is not an efficient solution if the tendency is to keep ruminating in negative thought patterns which worsen the emotional state. Men also tend to be more physical, with the tendency to work out their emotions by finding solutions, or avoid them by doing things.
The second is more surprising; men just do not see the point in talking about their feelings, according to a study involving more than 2,000 school-aged children by Amanda Rose of the University of Missouri.
In fact, their early aversion to talking about their feelings may be something they carry with them into manhood. "Men may be more likely to think talking about problems will make the problems feel bigger and engaging in different activities will take their minds off of the problem," says Rose.
Although men are less likely to suffer from poor mental health than women, they face more danger when they do. This is due partly to the tendency of men to process emotions internally. Hence, it is crucial to encourage men, more so than women, to seek external help for their mental health struggles. MIMS
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