Mental illness can affect anyone from any walk of life, regardless of gender, age, income, or any other factor. However, some disorders tend to affect men at a higher incidence rate than women.
According to the American Psychological Association and based on what we at The Men’s List hear about men and women experiencing mental health issues, these three disorders affect more men than women.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) is a mental health disorder that causes a person to show no regard for what is wrong or right. Someone with APD ignores the feelings and the rights of others. They tend to manipulate and antagonize others, and treat people with callous indifference. They also experience no remorse or guilt for making another person feel bad.
Many convicted criminals, especially violent ones, have APD, but not everyone with APD is guilty of a crime. People with APD behave impulsively, are struggle with honesty, and are prone to develop a drug or alcohol use disorder. Most struggle to fulfill work or relationship responsibilities consistently.
Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder include:
• Deceitful behavior
• Disregard for social norms of right and wrong
• Cynicism in relationships
• Disrespectful behavior
• Tendency to be charming toward others for personal gain
• Lack of empathy
• Unnecessary risk taking with no regard for self or others
• Refusal to consider negative consequences of actions
For most men, the symptoms of APD will develop before the age of Fifteen. Some of the most common indicators someone has developed APD include:
• Aggressive toward animals or people
• Deceitful behavior
• Destruction of property
• Serious violation of laws and/or rules
APD is a lifelong condition, but it is possible to manage the symptoms and its impact.
Someone with Bipolar Disorder (BD) experiences both manic and depressive phases. (It was previously known as Manic-Depressive Disorder.)
A man with Bipolar Disorder experiences phases of hypomanic feelings and behavior followed by periods of depression. Mood changes swing from unnatural happiness to extreme depression, depending on the individual.
Mental health experts believe bipolar disorder has a genetic link, more so than some other mental health disorders.
BD affects more than 5 million American adults. The disorder can arise in early childhood or as late as middle age, but the average age symptoms appear tends to be around the age of 25.
There are four categories of BD, including:
• Bipolar I: Most extreme type that can include manic episodes of up to a week. Professional medical treatment is always needed.
• Bipolar II: Similar to I, but periods of manic episodes are shorter
• Cyclothymia: Recurring episodes of hypomanic and depressive episodes for up to two years for adults and one year for children.
• Other Specified or Unspecified Bipolar: Types that donot fit into any of the other categories.
Symptoms of the hypomanic phase of BD include:
• Extreme feelings of elation
• Racing thoughts
• Propensity to take personal safety or security risks that often involve spending money or engaging in sexual acts
Symptoms of the depressive phase of BD include:
• Excessive sadness
• Anorexia or binge eating
• Lack of energy
• Feeling of emptiness or hopelessness
• Thoughts of suicide or death
The third of the three mental health disorders affecting men more than women is suicidal depression. More women experience depression than men, but men tend to act on their feelings and complete suicide because of their depression. Approximately 16 million people in the United States experience a depressive episode every year, but the majority of these do not result in suicide or even suicide attempts.
Some mental health experts believe the reason men commit suicide more than women is that they have a higher physical threshold for pain. Others believe they tend to make irrational, reactive decisions when faced with stressful situations. There is also evidence that men for whom unemployment is the primary catalyst for depression and suicide struggle to come up with effective solutions for personal problems as easily as they did when they were employed.
Mental health professionals speculate that the best way to reduce the risk of suicide in men is to help them develop effective strategies for dealing with depression before they experience an episode. They believe many of the patterns that develop in youth lead to a high risk for suicide in middle age, especially when triggers in relationship status, employment security, and physical health arise.
In addition to the three disorders listed above, some mental health professionals also believe that undifferentiated schizophrenia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD also tend to affect men at a higher rate than women. It’s important to remember none of these conditions is curable entirely, but it is possible to diagnose and treat these issues, improving the chances to live a fulfilling life.
“It’s a process of recognizing the symptoms with the help and support of a trained counsellor or therapist and finding a way to ‘live with’ rather than ‘live without’ the disorder,” says Dale Curd, Founder of The Mens’ List. “Living a full life is possible for men with these conditions and symptoms if they embrace and accept that this is how their minds work rather than trying to ‘fix’ what they perceive as a brokenness within them.”