Category Archives: Mental Health

Dysthymic Disorder in Men

Dysthymia, also called persistent depressive disorder, is a chronic form of depression characterized by a lack of motivation, feelings of hopelessness, low self-worth and overall unhappiness. While dysthymia is typically not as severe as major depressive disorder, it lasts longer. Its relentlessness can take the joy out of life, leaving you feeling fatigued, irritable and empty.

Dysthymic Disorder Symptoms

Dysthymia is more common among women, but it can also affect men. Dysthymic disorder characteristics include:

  • Sleeping or eating too much or too little
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Avoiding social activities
  • Loss of energy and enthusiasm
  • A consistently pessimistic, self-defeating attitude
  • Ongoing guilt about past events or worries about the future

What Causes Dysthymia?

There is no single cause of persistent depressive disorder. Instead, it results from a combination of factors, like your environment, biological factors and changes in brain chemistry. Chronic stress and trauma can also contribute to this condition.

Dysthymia seems to run in families, but researchers have not discovered any genes linked to it. Dysthymic disorder often co-occurs with other chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, substance abuse or anxiety. A combined substance use disorder and mental illness is a dual diagnosis, and requires treating both components simultaneously.

Persistent Depressive Disorder Treatment

While persistent depressive disorder responds well to treatment, many people never seek help. In some cases, hopelessness and a lack of motivation may make men feel they don’t deserve to get better. Many people also mistakenly believe their dysthymia symptoms are part of their personality, and therefore something they can’t improve.

If you have been sluggish or apathetic, some small lifestyle changes can help you start feeling more like yourself again. For example, spending time in nature, volunteering in your community, exercising more and playing with pets can all release feel-good brain chemicals that naturally improve your mood.

You can also visit your doctor for a screening if you struggle with the symptoms of persistent depressive disorder. Though a depression screening is not a substitute for a formal diagnosis from a mental health professional, it can be a beneficial first step in identifying signs of an underlying issue and determining an effective treatment plan.

Gender-Specific Programming in Orange County

PACE Recovery Center is a men’s-only rehab offering personalized treatment plans for our clients. We help men manage difficult emotions, learn healthy coping skills, identify substance use triggers and plan for aftercare. Our accredited team of physicians, doctorate-level clinicians and drug and alcohol counselors provides evidence-based therapies for addiction, mood and personality disorders and mental health conditions.

Achieving sustained sobriety is about more than abstaining from alcohol and drugs. It’s about feeling empowered with the skills you need to live a fulfilling life. We understand the societal expectations placed on men to be stoic and never display emotions. That’s why we provide a safe, nonjudgmental place where you can express your feelings and form a brotherhood with others who have faced similar challenges. To learn more about our accreditations and verify your insurance coverage, reach out to us today.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

Life can get stressful, and everyone experiences anxiety occasionally. However, people with generalized anxiety disorder struggle with excessive, ongoing or unrealistic worries that are out of proportion to their circumstances. GAD can be challenging to manage, especially when it interferes with your daily activities.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Causes and Effects

While many people get anxious before pivotal events like a work presentation, GAD is different from these fleeting moments of anxiety because it can spiral out of control to a point where all your thoughts are irrationally negative.

If you have generalized anxiety disorder, there is not one isolated cause of your elevated stress levels and internalized pessimism. Instead, people develop mental illnesses due to a complex interplay of variables such as genetics, brain chemistry, personality, environment, upbringing and life choices such as alcohol and drug use.

In addition to affecting your thought processes, GAD can cause several mental, emotional and physical symptoms, including:

  • Muscle aches and tension
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent panic attacks
  • Agitation, irritability and restlessness
  • Ongoing fatigue
  • An elevated heart rate
  • Difficulty concentrating on tasks 

GAD often co-occurs with other mental health conditions, like PTSD, social anxiety disorder, clinical depression, phobias or substance use disorders. The presence of a dual diagnosis can make it more challenging for health professionals to accurately assess your condition and recommend an appropriate treatment strategy. However, you can and should take steps to learn how to get your anxiety under control. If your anxiety symptoms have interfered with your daily life for at least six months, schedule an appointment with your general practitioner.

Effective GAD Treatment Strategies

Often, a combination of medication and talk therapy proves successful at treating generalized anxiety disorder and helping you get your life back under control. You may also want to try making some specific lifestyle changes.

      • Exercise: Physical activity can help you work off some of the nervous energy that tends to accompany anxiety. After a workout, your body will also release endorphins that naturally boost your mood.
      • Go outside: Vitamin D plays an essential role in many functions, including mood regulation. Your body makes vitamin D on its own when exposed to only a few minutes of sunshine. The experience of being outdoors is also relaxing.
      • Do mindfulness activities: The thought of sitting quietly and focusing on your breath may sound intimidating if anxiety makes your thoughts race. Instead of meditating, try incorporating more mindfulness into daily activities like eating and doing chores.
      • Try a new hobby: Learning new things can occupy your restless brain and direct your focus away from your anxiety triggers.
      • Change your diet: People with GAD should steer clear of caffeine. Switch to decaf coffee and tea, and choose a balanced diet full of fresh produce, whole grains and lean protein sources.

Speak to Someone Who Can Help You

Established in 2012 and situated along the beautiful California coast, PACE Recovery Center proudly serves men recovering from substance misuse and co-occurring mental or behavioral illness. Contact us today to ask about our admissions process, verify your insurance coverage and learn more about starting your recovery in a single-gender environment.

PHP for Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are separate mental health conditions, but they frequently co-occur. Symptoms such as irritability and insomnia characterize both disorders, which can complicate your diagnosis and interfere with your quality of life. Fortunately, these illnesses are treatable with a combination of therapy, lifestyle changes and specific medications. Partial hospitalization is one option you might want to consider if you want to improve your mental health while remaining at home.

What Is Partial Hospitalization?

A partial hospitalization program is a level of care that provides a safe, structured setting without requiring you to move into a residential facility. PHP can treat anxiety, depression and other mental and behavioral health conditions.

PHP is an educational experience that teaches people to cope with their emotions and develop life skills in a supportive environment. It allows clients to continue enjoying the comforts of home while attending treatment and establishing a foundation for lifelong wellness.

Benefits and Goals of PHP Treatment

At PACE Recovery, we have designed our PHP treatment program to help you learn how to manage your anxiety or depression while juggling work, relationships and other responsibilities. Your goal is to acquire new coping skills to identify triggers and deal with challenging emotions, while developing alternative, healthier responses.

The benefits of a partial hospitalization program are:

  • Participation in individual and group therapy
  • Access to a qualified team of mental and behavioral health specialists
  • Opportunities to forge new relationships, which can help you combat loneliness and isolation
  • Comprehensive education about mental health issues
  • More time to work through your challenges and focus on holistic wellness

What Happens in a PHP for Mental Health?

PACE Recovery’s mental health programming includes individual and group therapy, vocational and educational workshops, skills training, prescription medication management, family counseling and neuropsychological testing. Our clinicians will work with you to determine the most effective therapies and develop a PHP treatment plan tailored to your needs.

PACE’s internationally recognized addiction treatment center offers evidence-based therapies and clinical treatments that help young men identify and achieve specific recovery goals while preparing for productive, independent living.

Cutting-Edge Mental Health and Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

Our staff of master’s- and doctorate-level clinicians, psychiatrists and clinical psychologists administers PACE’s CARF-accredited mental health treatments. With decades of expertise and firsthand experience with behavioral health and substance use disorders, PACE’s staff has a shared philosophy that effective treatment must target underlying issues of accountability, self-esteem and self-worth to result in long-term change.

At PACE, our gender-specific programs help male clients cope with the unique societal and personal pressures placed on them. We’ve intentionally created a judgment-free atmosphere that encourages young men to share their feelings, improve their mental health and heal from trauma. Contact us to learn more about our programming and verify your insurance coverage.

Observing World Adoption Day

When families welcome a child through adoption, they do their best to provide a loving, stable home environment. Though parents want to do everything in their power to ensure their child grows up happy, healthy and well-adjusted, adoptees’ unique background makes them more vulnerable to developing substance use disorders due to a combination of various factors.

In observance of World Adoption Day on Nov. 9, what are some of the effects of adoption, and how can you overcome them?

1. Adoption Trauma

While adoption can create a new, nurturing family and give a child a better chance to grow up surrounded by caring adults, adoptees experience higher-than-average rates of depression and PTSD and may continue to feel grief and fear throughout their lives.

Many adoptees end up in a much safer environment than they otherwise might have, but that does not necessarily stop them from wondering how their lives could have been different if they had been able to stay with their birth parents. Even children who were adopted as babies and have no memory of their biological family may grow up feeling like something is missing or that nobody understands them.

2. Adverse Childhood Experiences

Being adopted or spending time in the foster system are potentially adverse childhood experiences. ACEs are sources of ongoing stress that can cause chronic toxicity and illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control, at least half of the top 10 leading causes of death link back to ACEs.

Prevailing research suggests that stressful or traumatic events are especially impactful during childhood because they happen while your brain is still developing, before you have the emotional maturity to understand the world around you. As a result, you may have trouble dealing with complex feelings and seek to sweep them under the rug instead of confronting them head-on.

3. Attachment Issues

Attachment is the framework we use to develop relationships with others. Ideally, every child would grow up with at least one nurturing, loving caregiver. However, if trust and connection are lacking, a child’s capacity to form secure and meaningful relationships can suffer. Adoptees who struggle to bond with their new family might fear rejection, be uncomfortable with physical affection and prefer to self-soothe instead.

4. Addiction

If you’ve felt isolated, misunderstood, unwelcome or otherwise “different” your whole life, drinking or drug use might seem like a viable solution to your inner turmoil. While substance abuse may temporarily dull the pain and allow you to avoid dealing with your problems, keeping yourself numbed will prevent you from experiencing the growth you need to become a better version of yourself. The mounting mental and physical health issues will also chip away at your quality of life.

Start Your Healing Journey Today

At PACE Recovery, we have created specialized programming to cater to adoptees’ unique circumstances, needs and concerns. We know the effects of adoption can lead to substance use disorders and long-term mental health issues, and we use evidence-based therapies to help adopted people identify and address the root causes of these illnesses. When you are ready to learn more about personalized men’s-only recovery in California, reach out to us.

Isolation on the Rise in Men

While solitude can allow you to relax and spend time with your thoughts, too much social isolation can be unhealthy. Due to the inextricable mind-body connection, people who lack close relationships can become chronically stressed, which can lead to a host of other health problems. Social isolation may also cause or worsen disorders like depression and anxiety.

Why Are Men So Lonely?

Factors such as cultural norms, heavy technology use, gig working and fewer opportunities to socialize have made it more difficult for young men to form close friendships. As a result, they increasingly spend large amounts of time alone or in extremely limited contact with others.

If you lack intimate relationships in your life, you may notice the following problems developing.

  • You avoid get-togethers, including those you formerly enjoyed.
  • Canceling plans to go out gives you a sense of relief.
  • Thinking about in-person interactions makes you anxious or panicky.
  • You’re unwilling or unable to share your feelings with others.

Societal Pressures Are Different for Boys and Girls

Parents of young girls encourage them to be compassionate, communicative and practice active listening skills – all qualities that can forge and nurture emotionally supportive relationships. Often, boys do not receive this same type of socialization, which can make them reluctant to show any signs of weakness or ask for help. As a result of these different cultural expectations, young men are less likely to reach out when they’re struggling or show affection to their loved ones.

Boys and young men crave close connections with their peers, but there is still stigma attached to male vulnerability. Statistically, men are much less likely than women to seek help for mental and emotional health issues due to ingrained gender norms about self-reliance. As a result, they are often more isolated throughout their lives.

Social Isolation Is Unhealthy

Though it’s possible to be alone without feeling lonely, chronic loneliness can become problematic if you don’t have the emotional, mental or financial resources to go out and satisfy your social needs or lack a circle of friends who can provide the benefits of camaraderie.

Research has linked social isolation to various adverse health consequences, including depression, poor sleep quality, diminished executive function, accelerated cognitive decline and impaired immunity at every stage of life. For example, the results of one study suggest lonely people are up to 30% more likely to experience cardiovascular disease, including strokes.

In the absence of encouragement from family or friends, isolated people may also fall into unhealthy habits like drinking, drug use and eating or sleeping too much or too little. These can worsen your feelings of loneliness by impacting your physical and mental health.

Begin Your Healing Journey Today

At PACE Recovery Center, we offer customized programming in a gender-specific environment. Here, you can find a sense of camaraderie and brotherhood among other men who have faced similar challenges, making friendships that can last a lifetime.

Addressing all aspects of the disease of addiction, including related mental health issues, the PACE approach includes 12-step meetings and evidence-based practices. We offer men’s long-term residential treatment in Orange County in a structured program that includes 24/7 access to resources. Contact us today to verify your insurance coverage and learn more about the admissions process.

CPTSD vs. PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that can affect people who have lived through a frightening or upsetting event, thus sending their instinctive danger response into high gear. PTSD victims struggle with intrusive thoughts and memories, and often change their behavior in ways that allow them to avoid potential triggers. Additionally, some trauma survivors exhibit a more severe form of this disorder known as complex PTSD.

Understanding the Difference Between PTSD and CPSTD

While PTSD can result from a one-time occurrence such as a car accident, complex trauma tends to develop after a series of inescapable, life-threatening events that take place over several months or years. Examples of experiences that can lead to complex PTSD include domestic abuse and serving in combat.

Often, the psychological and developmental consequences of complex trauma are more severe than those that result from a single traumatic experience. That’s why many mental health professionals suggest that the current PTSD diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-5-TR don’t sufficiently describe the long-lasting effects of CPTSD.

How Does Complex Trauma Affect Your Overall Health?

Since the brain responds to trauma by going into permanent fight-or-flight mode, trauma survivors are frequently tense, anxious and on edge, even in comfortable surroundings with no threats present. Startling easily and having concentration and memory problems are hallmarks of PTSD and CPTSD. You may also have insomnia and physical effects such as body aches, headaches and digestive problems.

Ultimately, the cumulative effects of CPTSD symptoms can be life-altering and cause significant impairment, affecting your relationships and ability to find and keep a fulfilling job.

Complex PTSD frequently co-occurs with other mental health issues like anxiety and depression. It also overlaps with addiction, as people may use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate their severe symptoms. A dual diagnosis will perpetuate itself in a vicious cycle that makes you feel much worse.

CPTSD Diagnosis and Treatment

Since there is not a specific diagnostic test to determine the difference between PTSD and CPTSD, keep a journal of your triggers, symptoms and their severity so you can describe them to your doctor or psychiatrist.

Some complex PTSD symptoms, like depersonalization, can resemble the characteristics of borderline personality disorder, and a health professional can screen you to rule out similar conditions and get you on a treatment regimen.

Complex PTSD and co-occurring addiction are treatable, and evidence shows that simultaneously addressing mental health conditions and substance use provides the best outcomes. If you’re grappling with a dual diagnosis, a therapist can teach you healthier coping mechanisms to replace drug and alcohol abuse. You may also benefit from enrolling in a residential treatment program, where you can fully focus on your health and well-being.

Why Come to PACE Recovery Center?

At PACE Recovery Center, our treatment philosophy integrates thoroughly researched and clinically proven approaches. Our premier Orange County facility provides residential and outpatient treatment for co-occurring substance use and behavioral health disorders. In our single-gender program, men with complex conditions can benefit from being in a structured environment with 24/7 care and supervision. To learn more, please reach out to our experienced admissions counselors today.

Physical Symptoms of Grief

At some point, everyone loses somebody they love. Whether a parent, friend, or child passes away, the experience of mourning can be all-consuming. You may be surprised to learn that bereavement can be a full-body experience, complete with fatigue, nausea, and listlessness. Here’s what you need to know about the physical symptoms of grief in men.

When Heartache is Real

For decades, researchers have analyzed the impact of grief on the human body. They’ve made a few promising discoveries, summarized here:

  • Grief can increase inflammation, which may exacerbate existing health issues.
  • It increases vulnerability to disease among older adults.
  • Losing someone increases cortisol production, resulting in higher stress levels.
  • Grief intensifies physical pain, appetite loss, and likelihood of blood clots.
  • Experiencing a loss heightens the incidence of “self-medication,” which is the process of drinking or using drugs to escape reality.

Some of these life-threatening symptoms can come on quickly. One 2012 study showed that the risk of heart attack increases by 21 times in the day after the loss of a loved one. It stays six times higher throughout the following week.

“Broken heart syndrome” is another concern. Emotional stress can cause chambers of the heart to expand, triggering physical sensations that mimic a heart attack. While this condition is generally reversible, it should be a clear illustration of the danger faced by men after the death of their partners, friends, or pets.

Physical Symptoms of Grief

Not all physical symptoms of grief are this severe. Most men will experience some level of bodily discomfort as they process a loss. Typically, this looks like:

  • Stomach pain and nausea
  • Loss of appetite and weight fluctuation
  • Difficulty sleeping and nightmares
  • Dry mouth
  • Throat feeling “tight”
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Crying and sighing
  • Aches and pains without physical cause
  • Chest pain and difficulty breathing

The ongoing pain associated with a death in the family can push some men to drink or use drugs. This form of self-medication is both dangerous and destructive. It stops people from moving through the stages of grief, accepting their loss, and deciding to move forward. It also increases the likelihood of developing a substance use disorder or aggravating an existing mental illness. Men who have begun coping in this fashion should contact a licensed dual diagnosis treatment center for immediate care.

How to Find Peace After a Loss

Avoiding the complications of grief requires a bit of self-care. The first step is to surround yourself with a supportive network of friends and family. They can keep you company, pitch in with significant chores, and assist you in some of the biggest challenges faced after a loss (like cleaning out your loved one’s clothes and belongings). Community can make an incredible difference in your experience after a traumatic event.

Next, try to do things that are good for your body and soul. We recommend regularly exercising, which releases feel-good endorphins and alleviates symptoms of depression. Eat healthy, hearty meals and try to avoid binging on comfort foods. Fueling your body properly will empower you to adapt to life after loss.

Finally, remember that professional help is available. Some people experience prolonged or complicated grief, which require intervention from a trained psychologist. Mental health providers can help you to unpack your feelings, open up about your loved one, and resolve complex emotions.

Suffering from Physical Symptoms of Grief?

While it may feel impossible right now, things will get better. Your loved one would want you to live a happy, healthy life free from substance use or mental illness. PACE Recovery Center offers a haven for young men struggling with physical symptoms of grief, addiction, and more. To learn more about our comprehensive, fully individualized programming, contact our admissions office. 

Why Do People Steal in Early Recovery?

Substance abuse leads to a host of bad behaviors, including deception and petty theft. However, you may be surprised to learn that these misdeeds aren’t limited to active addiction. At PACE, we have observed that some young men first begin to shoplift in early recovery. Today, we’ll discuss this counterintuitive form of self-sabotage, the psychological principles behind it, and alternatives for those seeking to stop stealing.

Examples of Stealing in Early Recovery

While most associate theft with dire need, the reality is that many people in early recovery aren’t stealing because of poverty or economic disadvantage.

To illustrate this point, consider that commonly pilfered items include teeth whitening kits, laundry detergent, spices, energy drinks, over-the-counter medications, cell phone charging cables, sunglasses, clothing, and snack foods. Not essentials or valuables.

In fact, the following three points are true of most post-treatment shoplifting cases:

  • People steal products they do not need.
  • Stolen items often carry little or no value.
  • People in early recovery can usually afford the items they take.

Career criminals orchestrate high-value heists with accomplices. Those stealing after treatment operate differently; they shoplift alone and without prior planning. This spontaneous behavior then leads to strong feelings of guilt and shame. Why, then, do young men in recovery decide to take things that do not belong to them?

Psychological Reasons for Stealing

This pattern of behavior makes more sense when considered from a neurological perspective. The brain’s limbic system is responsible for rewarding survival-oriented actions like eating. Drinking heavily or taking drugs rewires this part of a person’s mind, along with another crucial structure: the prefrontal cortex (PFC). The PFC handles higher-order thinking, judgement, and self-control.

When these two areas are compromised, the brain has one priority—getting a dopamine hit through any means necessary.

For most people in active addiction, this means using drugs or alcohol. But when these substances are off the table in early recovery, stealing becomes an appealing replacement. Newly sober men often turn to theft as a form of sensation-seeking. The rush of taking a risk can become an unhealthy source of stimulation after treatment.

Troublingly, when someone steals and evades legal consequences, “getting away with it” may make him feel invincible. It’s important for men who believe this to know that most major retailers build cases on shoplifters over time. While they may not be stopped by security officers on their first, second, or third visit, arrest is likely after crossing a certain threshold of theft.

Finding Healthy Stimulation in Recovery

Fortunately, young men in recovery have access to alternative forms of entertainment. Below are a few safe and legal activities for thrill-seekers who want to stay sober.

  • Exploring new cities, countries, and natural settings
  • Taking a trip with nothing pre-planned
  • Going bungee jumping, rock climbing, or ziplining
  • Riding a roller coaster
  • Playing a team sport
  • Making new friends
  • Watching horror films
  • Getting a motorcycle or jet ski
  • Surfing
  • Skydiving
  • Running a marathon
  • Climbing a mountain

If you’re concerned about a pattern of theft after treatment, help is available. PACE Recovery Center offers dual diagnosis care to men at all stages of recovery. Our residential and outpatient mental health programs provide structure and clinical insight to clients diagnosed with emotional issues and co-occurring substance use disorders. Contact our admissions team to learn about our California treatment center.

988: Call the Suicide Prevention Hotline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has been a resource for people struggling with mental health crises for over fifteen years. Previously, the only way to contact the lifeline was by dialing their 1-800 number. Because this phone number was so long, therapists often encouraged those with severe mental illnesses to program the number into their phone or keep a card on hand to reference. However, as of July 16, 2022, those in distress can now call the suicide prevention hotline, now known as the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, by dialing 988. 

Suicide Prevention Hotline Services

The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a resource that anyone struggling with a mental health concern can use. Despite having “suicide” in the name, this hotline offers more than suicide prevention. In fact, according to their website, the lifeline can help with any type of emotional distress including:

  • Depressive or anxious thoughts
  • Side effects of abuse
  • Relationship stress
  • Gender and sexual identity
  • Substance misuse
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm

These trained counselors are available 24/7, so people can call whenever they are dealing with an overwhelming event.

Developing the 988 Number

The suicide hotline created this new number to make crisis services accessible to a wider audience. Much like how people recognize 911 as the number for physical emergencies, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline hopes 988 will become a recognized standard for mental health situations. Alongside this change, they are also working to better serve minority and disabled populations. This includes the Deaf community, LGBTQ+ people, veterans, indigenous populations, and Spanish-speaking communities. 

How the Suicide Hotline Works

When someone dials 988, the service routes the call to a local crisis center, where a trained counselor answers the phone. This ensures the person calling has access to local resources that can help them both during and after the call. The counselor will talk the caller through their situation, provide immediate support, and connect them to resources when appropriate. These calls are confidential, meaning counselors will not share information without the consent of the caller. The only exception to this is if a person is in immediate danger and emergency services are necessary. However, these types of situations only account for less than 2% of calls. 

Mental Health Support Beyond Crisis Lines

The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a great resource for anyone managing a serious mental illness. However, this doesn’t replace a need for counseling or residential treatment. Frequently calling the lifeline is an indication that a person’s mental illness is severely interfering with their life. This person likely requires more intensive support. 

At PACE Recovery Center, we offer residential and outpatient mental health support for young men with complex mental health diagnoses. We treat mood disorders, trauma symptoms, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders through a combination of evidence-based therapeutic interventions. Our Southern California center provides a break from the busyness of life for adolescent men. This helps them recover from their mental illness in a safe, comfortable environment. If you know of a young man who would benefit from intensive treatment for a mental health issue, contact us today.

Is Crying Good for You?

Crying is a natural response to the different emotions that humans experience. Whether it’s anger, sadness, happiness, or grief, any emotion can result in shedding a few tears. Men may be tempted to hold back their feelings in an effort to maintain a certain image, but this can do more harm than you might think. In fact, crying can be good for you both physically and mentally. 

Why Do We Cry?

In infants and small children, tears usually signify a physical need or pain that they are unable to communicate through words. However, crying in adulthood has perplexed researchers for centuries. Researchers offer multiple explanations for this phenomenon.

A 2013 study argues that tears are often indicative of a need for support. This theory is consistent with current understandings of why infants cry as well. In adulthood, crying signals that a person has an unmet need or feels helpless. For example, someone who experiences a natural disaster may sob over the loss of their home or belongings. This isn’t necessarily related to the physical loss but could be a feeling of helplessness and uncertainty about the future. 

Other researchers view crying as an effective self-soothing technique. A 2014 study argues that when a person allows themselves to feel emotions in this way, they experience mood improvement and relief. This study focuses more on the inward effects of this act as opposed to it expressing an unmet need. However, both of these articles support the idea that tears serve a greater purpose and can be good for you. 

Benefits of Crying

Crying can have both physical and psychological benefits including:

  • Emotion Regulation: This releases built-up emotions, reducing stress and anxiety about the situation.
  • Increasing Support: Because crying can signal a need for help, this provides an opportunity for others to come alongside the person in distress to support them.
  • Releasing Toxins and Hormones: Some researchers argue that emotional tears are connected to hormones and toxins, so they can help regulate these imbalances. They can also release endorphins which improve mood.
  • Clearing Eye Debris: Pollen, dander, and other particles can get caught in an eye and damage the cornea if they aren’t cleared. Tears are the body’s way of keeping a person’s eyes clean and protected.

Allowing Yourself to Cry

Despite what popular culture may portray, crying is not a sign of weakness. It’s actually the body’s natural response to unexpected or difficult circumstances. There are areas in every person’s life that are outside of their control and difficult to manage. Tears signify a recognition that this is a bigger issue that needs more support. 

As a young man, you may feel like you can’t allow yourself to let go and cry, but remember that this is actually a healthy and normal reaction. Tears help release built-up emotions and can relieve stress. And while this is often good for you, there are also times when this signifies a need for more support. If this happens multiple times per day or for days at a time, it’s time to seek professional care.

Mental Health Support at PACE Recovery Center

Tears in response to difficult situations, pain, or grief are usually nothing to be concerned about. However, if you’re unable to control your emotions, this could be a sign of a deeper issue. Depression and anxiety can create high levels of distress, resulting in uncontrollable tears. 

At PACE Recovery Center, we offer both residential and outpatient mental health treatment. We work with young men to develop coping skills to manage the emotions they are feeling. Our treatment model emphasizes expressing feelings in a healthy way and processing through difficult life circumstances. We understand the healing power of crying and work with young men to foster a positive view of their emotions. If you or a young man you know would benefit from intensive mental health support, contact our Southern California center today.