Mental health experts have issued a warning about the dangers men face when they keep their emotions bottled up. According to a report in the Mirror, the pressure to conform to traditional stereotypes of masculinity can lead to deteriorating levels of mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing among men.
Men who suppress their feelings can be at a greater risk of developing mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, and even thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Three times as many men as women in the UK die by suicide, yet only 36% of NHS referals for talking therapies are for men.
Men are also more likely than women to misuse alcohol and drugs, develop addictions, and become homeless. Poor mental health can cause relationship breakdown, loss of jobs and financial problems. It can also cause physical problems such as erectile dysfunction (ED), particularly in men aged between 20 and 40.
A team of experts who work for a community health app told the Mirror: “Suppression of emotions remains an all too common problem among men. At its worst, it can lead to depression and anxiety, and for men especially, it can also increase their risk of suicide.”
They added: “When we suppress thoughts and emotions, we push them out of conscious awareness. When we do this, we hope that the thoughts and emotions will go away and no longer affect us in any way. Unfortunately, the human brain doesn’t work like that. Instead, suppression may actually amplify our negative experiences.”
“This effect was shown with the classic white bear study. In the study, people were told not to think of a white bear. Simply being told not to think about a white bear to suppress these thoughts led these people to think of white bears far more frequently. This research helped us see that suppression is an ineffective way to decrease negative thoughts and emotions.”
The experts advise anyone who is experiencing difficult emotions to be honest and acknowledge their feelings rather than try to keep them shut away. Writing down thoughts and feelings can be a very beneficial exercise to unlock the vicious negative mental cycle. This process can help people to put situations in perspective and see them more clearly.
Exercise is recommended as a very useful way to distract a busy mind and boost the mood. Eating well and avoiding drinking to excess can also help to promote better mental health.
Reaching out to family, friends, or a medical professional is also an important step for anyone who is in distress or experiencing thoughts of self harm.
Men who are experiencing erectile dysfunction, as the result of a mental health problem or otherwise, are advised to consult a doctor to rule out any serious underlying causes. It is an easily treatable condition with oral medications or topical gels.
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