Category Archives: Mental Health

5 Signs You Might Have High-Functioning Depression

Popular media and culture typically portray people with depression as exhibiting the more debilitating symptoms of depression such as a lack of motivation to do daily tasks, severe hopelessness, and persistent sadness. While these are common symptoms associated with depression, there are a number of other emotions and behaviors that can go unnoticed by society in a person who has depression. This is especially true if a person has what is considered “high-functioning depression”.

What Is High-Functioning Depression?

The DSM-5 categorizes the different types of depression based on their severity, symptoms present, and the duration of symptoms. The most common form of depression is major depressive disorder, and this is what is typically associated with the cultural understanding of depression. Those with major depressive disorder exhibit severe symptoms that can greatly interfere with their ability to function in society. Other types of depression include seasonal affective disorder and postpartum depression. But one of the lesser-noticed types of depression is dysthymia, and this is often what is considered “high-functioning depression”. 

High-functioning depression is likely to go unnoticed by society due to its persistent nature. Those who exhibit signs of dysthymia have had depressive symptoms for years (2 or more) which can contribute to their ability to manage the symptoms and function more successfully in society than a person with newly-diagnosed depression. So how do you know if you have dysthymia? Let’s look at 5 signs you might have high-functioning depression.

5 Signs of Dysthymia

You’ve Experienced Symptoms of Depression for 2 or More Years

One of the key indicators of dysthymia is persistent depressive symptoms for two or more years. These symptoms often come and go over time, but they can range in severity. Some of the key symptoms of depression include: 

      • Persistent sadness
      • Feelings of hopelessness
      • Loss of interest in hobbies
      • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness

You’ve Learned How to “Mask” Your Symptoms

Often, those who have experienced symptoms of depression for longer periods of time have learned to cope in order to function successfully. Coping skills could look like compartmentalizing feelings to deal with later or putting on a smile despite feeling sad. If you’ve experienced symptoms for a long time, it’s likely that you’re aware of how this affects your daily life. It’s not uncommon to try to hide those feelings to appear more lively in the presence of others.

Your Home Feels Chaotic

When you’re feeling stressed, one of the first things that’s often affected is your ability to keep up with the smaller tasks in life. This becomes most evident in your home and the cleanliness of your space. The high levels of stress your body is feeling make it more difficult to prioritize chores and other small responsibilities. If you have dysthymia, you’ve likely learned to manage the depressive symptoms by allowing other areas of your life to fall behind, such as your home. 

You Feel Constantly Tired

Emotions can be exhausting, and living with depression for a long period of time can have negative effects on your physical health. If your body is living in a state of heightened emotion, whether positive or negative, this can decrease your energy levels and make you feel tired more often than usual. If you find that you’re feeling tired more days than not, and there isn’t a physical health reason, this could be a sign of depression.

Goals Still Motivate You

Despite one of the main symptoms of depression being a lack of interest in hobbies or activities you once enjoyed, a contrasting symptom for those with high-functioning depression is that your goals continue to motivate you to keep going. Those with dysthymia are often able to continue working towards their goals despite feelings of depression. When symptoms of depression and a motivation to achieve are working concurrently, this could be a sign of high-functioning depression.

Help for Symptoms of Depression

No matter what form of depression you have, you deserve help from a professional. Dysthymia is considered high-functioning depression because those who experience symptoms for long periods of time have learned how to function well in society despite their symptoms. Talking to a professional, though, can help you deal with the root causes of your depression to alleviate the burden of trying to function despite your symptoms. If you or a man you know is living with high-functioning depression, PACE Recovery Center can help. Contact us today to learn more about our outpatient mental health services. 

Is Vyvanse Addictive?

Severe ADHD is frequently treated with prescription amphetamines, one such being Vyvanse (chemical name lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, also prescribed for narcolepsy and binge-eating disorder). The medication comes in pill form, formulated to improve concentration.

Prescription Drug Abuse

A problem common to most prescription drugs is that a number of patients become dissatisfied with the original prescription for not delivering everything they’d hoped for: not working “fast enough” or “thoroughly enough,” or losing some of its original effect over time. When that happens, people may decide (without their doctor’s permission or knowledge) to begin crushing pills and “snorting” the powder, or by dissolving the pills and injecting the solution.

These alternate channels do produce faster and more intense results. They also produce highly undesirable side effects:

  • “Snorting” can damage the nasal membranes and respiratory system.
  • Injecting scars the skin, bruises the veins, and (if the needle is not properly sterilized) spreads disease.
  • Either approach encourages stronger and more frequent doses, which is often a fast route to physical tolerance, dependence, and ultimately addiction.

How Does Vyvanse Work?

One advantage of Vyvanse is that it eliminates the option of snorting or injecting for stronger effect. Vyvanse is a “prodrug,” meaning that its active ingredients are released only in reaction with gastrointestinal enzymes, i.e., when the medication is taken orally and enters the digestive system.

Introduced into the body by any other channel, Vyvanse remains an inert substance with little or no perceptible effect. Hence it was the first medication to receive FDA approval for being labeled “abuse resistant.”

Vyvanse Misuse: Still a Concern

Unfortunately, while the prodrug design may prevent snorting or injection, it can’t block the channel most misusers start with: taking more pills than prescribed. A larger oral dose may not produce much of a “rush,” but it will have a stronger effect, which is good enough for someone whose main goal is to get extra amphetamine for working longer or losing weight. While individual doctors can deny prescriptions or refills in an effort to limit someone’s Vyvanse supply, many people just go to additional doctors, forge prescriptions, or even request prescriptions for nonexistent ADHD. Or they switch to other amphetamines that are amenable to snorting and injecting.

It’s also worth noting that some people do attempt to snort Vyvanse—if only to confirm that getting a “high” that way is impossible—and this in itself can hurt the nose and respiratory organs. Sometimes, especially if someone experiences a “placebo-effect” high and develops the habit of regular Vyvanse snorting, introducing a foreign substance into the body can trigger vertigo, motor tics, facial swelling, vision problems, or even heart trouble.

What to Do?

The common-sense way to avoid these dangers is to take Vyvanse (if you take it at all) strictly according to prescription—and, if dissatisfied with the results, to get advice from your doctor before doing anything else. However, don’t berate yourself if you’ve already slipped into misuse. These things happen, and getting down on yourself will only make it harder to find your footing again.

In addition to coming clean with your prescribing doctor about any Vyvanse misuse, see an addiction medicine specialist if:

  • You’ve even considered trying to snort or inject the drug, or obtain any Vyvanse through covert means
  • You’re tempted to try other amphetamines because Vyvanse isn’t “doing the job” anymore
  • You’ve tried to cut back on your Vyvanse use, but always seem to give in to temptation
  • You’ve ever had symptoms of amphetamine overdose or withdrawal.

Whether it starts with a Vyvanse prescription or something else, amphetamine addiction needn’t be a life sentence—but it’s rarely something anyone can beat alone, especially while simultaneously battling ADHD or another co-occurring disorder. Get professional help, and hold on to hope for the future. Recovery is always an option!

Find Help at PACE Recovery

If you’re a young man who’s used prescription medications outside of medical instructions, and is now struggling with compulsive dependence on those medications, PACE Recovery can help. We understand your unique needs, and we’ll show you how to take your life back.

Our motto is “Positive Attitude Changes Everything.” Contact us for more information or to request an appointment.

The Psychology of Hope

“Hope” is a word often used in less-than-hopeful contexts: “I hope this or that happens” frequently carries the implication, “but it probably won’t.” A proper understanding of hope, however, focuses on an optimistic attitude that not only wishes for good things but expects them, and takes an active role in bringing them about. Properly hopeful people are consistently healthier and more successful than their more pessimistic counterparts.

Hope and Recovery

Our motto at PACE is Positive Attitude Changes Everything—not least for those struggling with chemical dependency, mental illness, or both. Even if your mind, will, and sense of order have become uncontrollable, you can still make the decision to seek help in reclaiming a healthy life.

One important early step on the road to recovery is realizing that hope isn’t something you either have or don’t have: it’s a skill that can be learned and practiced. Even if your temperament isn’t naturally geared toward high optimism, you can build new habits to improve your everyday hope quotient.

The key elements of positive hope are that it’s:

Values-Based

Living only to make money, advance your status, or indulge yourself reaps feelings of emptiness. True fulfillment includes a commitment to something bigger than yourself, whether that’s a religious/spiritual outlook, a social cause, or shared happiness with friends and family. Decide where your greater purpose lies, and commit to living everyday life according to values that serve that purpose.

Proactive

Stephen Covey labeled proactive living as the first secret of being “highly effective.” Reactive people wait for good luck to happen to them, blame everything and everyone else when it doesn’t, consider themselves powerless victims of circumstances—and go through life “just following orders” and usually bitter and depressed. Proactive people make things happen. They keep their hope active by taking responsibility for their lives and by focusing on what they can do without fretting about the rest.

Goal-Oriented

Proactive goals, worked for and achieved, are the building blocks of hope. You may have heard of the SMART principle: worthwhile goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely (aka set with deadlines). They also should be personally meaningful: working for peer approval or someone else’s dream will only leave you frustrated.

Adaptable

Even the best-planned goals aren’t guaranteed to come off flawlessly. (Ask any experienced achiever whose original 2020 calendar was filled with travel plans and public-speaking engagements.) Healthy hope accepts that course corrections will be necessary and disappointments inevitable. Rather than take difficulties as evidence that planning doesn’t work, a hopeful person knows how to shift to Plan B and keep moving in the right overall direction.

Persistent

Where hope includes belief in long-term goals and dreams, it also includes stick-to-itiveness to keep going, even in the face of setbacks and delays.

Resilient

Resilience is the driving force behind adaptability and persistence—and more. Resilience:

  • Remains confident of recovery even from major disasters
  • Enables people to get back on track in the aftermath of relapsing into mental illness or drug use
  • Knows that wherever life continues, failure is never total.

Growth-Minded

Just as there’s no such thing as complete failure, there’s no such thing as complete success: growth was always intended to be a lifelong journey. Understanding this is important if you want to avoid the “I’ve blown it, so I might as well give up trying” trap. “Progress, not perfection” is hope’s mantra. Internalize it, and you’ll not only build up resistance to quitting: you’ll enjoy life far more as you approach each day expecting new opportunities, adventures, and achievements yet to come.

Embrace a Positive Attitude for Lasting Recovery

Positive Attitude Changes Everything—even the worst life situations. But if you have a behavioral and/or mental illness, the change to a healthy, hope-centered life isn’t a journey to undertake alone. PACE Recovery Center provides detox, care, and therapy for men seeking freedom from addiction and hopelessness.

Don’t let anyone tell you that “being a man” requires bottling up your feelings and toughing everything out alone. We understand your needs, and we provide a safe, empathetic environment for rediscovering your true identity. Contact us today to learn more!

Why Do We Make New Year’s Resolutions?

The excitement of a new year represents a chance to reset and approach your New Year’s resolutions from a hopeful lens. And it has been a common way for people to set goals over time. 

When Did New Year’s Resolutions Originate?

Both the Babylonians and the Egyptians celebrated the start of the new calendar year. The Babylonians celebrated in March, commemorating it with a prolonged festival. Meanwhile, the Egyptians celebrated the new calendar year coinciding with the annual flood from the Nile River. 

In particular, the Babylonians pledged to their gods good behavior for the coming year in hopes they curry favor from them. Often, this involved a pledge for them to pay off old debts. 

The Evolution of New Year’s Resolutions

In the past, it was not uncommon for people to pledge resolutions on having a better diet, exercising more and making more money. However, a survey from Affirm found that trends are starting to adjust.

The survey discovered that 71% of respondents pledge to learn new skills or set realistic goals. Along with learning a new skill, resolving to save more money and pay down debt were also popular trends. 

Another change consists of people focusing more on how they spend their time. Of those surveyed, more than half want to spend more time with their family, and 49% want to travel more.

How Do I Keep My New Year’s Resolutions?

Anytime you’re learning to adjust to new behaviors, it is vital to set realistic goals. Here are a few tips to help you achieve them:

Set Smaller Goals That are Easy to Accomplish

You can start by setting small, realistic goals. It is much more manageable to do in that you might not have to alter your behaviors much. And over time, you’ll see the benefit of these small choices, giving you more incentive to do other things.

Share Your New Year’s Resolutions with a Friend

Another tip is to find someone you trust and share your goals with them. Anytime you’re undertaking a new behavior or perspective, you want to find someone supportive who can keep you on course. They can check in to see how your progress goes and share insights to help you achieve your goals.

Alter Goals as Needed

Moreover, give yourself the freedom to adjust. If a goal does not seem attainable, set more realistic ones. Doing so doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It means you’re making strides to improve yourself and being realistic in the process. A slight change in perspective today could yield big results down the road. 

Receiving a Fresh Start

The holidays are hectic enough. However, for men suffering from mental illnesses or behavioral issues, the pressures of the holidays can magnify your struggles. If you or someone you know needs help, contact our team to learn more about our treatment programs. We devise solutions examining the root cause of the illness and work with you to find a more wholesome, positive outcome. The new year represents a fresh start to get on the road to recovery. 

Emotional Sobriety Checklist

The Need for Emotional Sobriety

Addiction recovery goes beyond physical detox and abstaining from addictive substances. If your abstention relies on willpower and “following the rules,” or if you leave other issues unaddressed, stress from unacknowledged emotions will build up and eventually make you prone to relapse. The healthy alternative is emotional sobriety: learning to acknowledge and deal with your feelings, no matter how painful, illogical, or shameful they seem. And no matter how many times you’ve been told, “Real men don’t get emotional.”

Emotions: A Universal Phenomenon

Don’t believe the biased stereotype that says acknowledging emotions is unmanly or weak. Every human being has a natural capacity and need for human feelings. The first step toward emotional sobriety is to observe and name your feelings. The second step is to look for their real purpose, which may be:

  • Warning you to avoid a dangerous situation (the danger needn’t be physical: it may come in the form of being asked to take on more than you can handle mentally)
  • Spurring you to action
  • Helping you determine the best course of action
  • Helping you connect with others and build stronger relationships.

The opposite of emotional sobriety is denying or ignoring the emotions behind a problem (“I’m not afraid to ask for shorter work hours, I’m just too busy right now to schedule a meeting with the boss”). When emotions build up unacknowledged for too long, it becomes increasingly tempting to “cope” with the internal pressure via quick-escape methods—such as drug use or relapse.

Whether you’re just beginning addiction treatment, starting a long-term sobriety journey, or physically sober and struggling with everyday stress and/or relapse temptations, the following points are a useful “checklist” for reviewing your current emotional-sobriety status and your best next steps.

Are You Getting Regular Help from a Therapist and a Support Group?

The journey from emotional suppression to emotional sobriety is rarely short or easy. And especially where deep feelings are related to trauma, drawing everything out at once can prove too painful to handle. The best approach is getting therapy from a counselor who is experienced at helping clients ease into confronting their emotions. Also, join a peer support group where you can feel less alone and explore your feelings in an understanding environment.

Are You Willing to Acknowledge Your Limits?

Especially if you’ve always been a fix-everything man, it may be tempting to treat emotional sobriety as a goal to be achieved quickly in clearly marked steps. Don’t. As already noted, you may not be ready (especially in the vulnerable early stages of physical sobriety) to deal with the full impact of your strongest emotions. Even if you were, uncovering long-suppressed feelings is never a quick-and-easy task, and pushing for instant results only generates extra stress. And stress only encourages relapse.

Are You Accepting Reality and Focusing on What You Can Control?

Emotional sobriety includes the Serenity Prayer goals: “serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Contrary to what many people think, “acceptance” needn’t mean passivity or dishonest optimism, and it needn’t interfere with acknowledging emotions or taking action. What it means is not wasting time trying to change the unchangeable, not letting legitimate anger and grief turn into paralyzing self-pity, but focusing your energy on doing the best you can with what you actually have. (Including help from other people.)

Are You Regularly Practicing Mindfulness?

Mindfulness—the art of reducing stress by allowing yourself to fully experience present reality—is a vital part of emotional sobriety. Mindfulness includes objectively acknowledging your feelings (including any you think you shouldn’t have) as a first step to understanding what legitimate needs lie behind those feelings. Such self-awareness is important for planning effective ways to meet those needs.

Are You Approaching Emotional Sobriety with the Right Overall Attitude?

Besides facing up to existing emotions, healthy emotional sobriety means a long-term, way-of-life commitment to:

  • Self-understanding and self-acceptance
  • Taking care of yourself
  • Effective decision-making and problem-solving
  • Believing that change is possible, and being willing to do your share of the work
  • Building stronger relationships by opening up to (and listening to) others
  • Becoming the best, most honest version of your unique self.

Emotional sobriety reinforces physical sobriety by making life worth living for itself, without any chemical crutch. There’s no better defense against relapse!

Embrace Emotional Sobriety

If you’ve been told all your life that strong men don’t show emotion, you may find the journey toward emotional sobriety as challenging as the initial detox. The best way to make the journey easier is to share it.

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a mark of courage and a first step toward overcoming challenges. PACE Recovery will connect you with a brotherhood of peers where you can safely explore your feelings from a position of strength. If you’re troubled by out-of-control drug use, wild mood swings, or similar problems, you don’t have to continue suffering alone. Contact us today to get started on the path to physical and emotional sobriety.

The 10 Best Gifts for People with Anxiety

Anxiety is quite common, with more than 40 million people experiencing it each year. Finding the perfect gift for someone who has it could be a challenge. Our guide helps you understand what people with this illness endure and what you can buy them to help alleviate some of their symptoms.

What Does it Feel Like to Have Anxiety?

Anxiety produces irritability, panic, dread, rapid heartbeat, restlessness, fatigue because of poor sleep, and other symptoms. People with it might feel on edge or engage in compulsive behaviors since they feel out of control. To demonstrate, someone anxious about finances might continually do their budget to quell their nerves.

What are Some Gift Suggestions for Those with Anxiety?

As such, you want to find gifts that help them feel calm, relaxed, and safe. Here are some suggestions:

  • Weighted blanket: A weighted blanket hugs your body, helping you feel secure and comforted. For those suffering from anxiety, it provides a relaxing haven.
  • Plants: Not only can a plant spruce up a room, but it can also help reduce anxiety. Lavender, in particular, is a wise choice. Its scent induces relaxation.
  • Epsom salts or bath bombs: Baths relax the muscles, resulting in improved sleep. And if you use bath salts containing Epsom salts, it calms anxiety.
  • Yoga: Yoga reduces anxiety through breathing exercises and mediation. If you know someone suffering from this condition, consider buying them a yoga mat and an app subscription to a yoga program. Or, if they prefer to take a class in person, you can purchase a block of them through a local studio.
  • Massage: Massage loosens the muscles, improves blood flow, and promotes relaxation. You can use websites like Groupon to secure a great deal from a local therapist.
  • Adult coloring book: Sometimes, having a fun activity can quiet the mind and allow someone to focus on another task. If your friend or family member loves to color, adult coloring books give them a chance to recenter and re-energize through something they love to do.
  • Tea: Drinking tea can also reduce anxiety. You can find cute tea sets at your local department store, boutique, or through an online retailer. When choosing calming teas, aim for ones with lavender, mint, green, or Chamomile.
  • Exercise class: Exercise lowers anxiety and helps promote a healthier sense of well-being. You can buy a membership to their favorite exercise class, a gift card to a local gym, or an app subscription.
  • Meditation apps: Meditation can also soothe anxious minds. You can give this gift by purchasing a meditation app.
  • Journal: A journal allows a person to empty their thoughts on paper. Not only can this be a wise way to curtail anxious thoughts, but it can also help someone discover the source of their anxieties and thought processes around them.

Take the First Step Towards a Peaceful Future

Only 36% of people receive treatment for anxiety. There are many therapies available that can help you confront the source of your anxieties. You also learn coping behaviors, leading to healthier outcomes.

If anxiety interferes with your daily life, reach out to an admissions counselor. We will work with you to explore all the treatment options available.

How to Deal with Holiday Depression

Often, we associate the holidays with tidings of joy, happiness, and glee. But the opposite can also apply. The financial and social pressures of the season can make you feel inadequate, stressed, or depressed. Our guide delves into the reasons for holiday depression. We also supply tips to help you feel better when depression strikes.

What Causes Holiday Depression?

This time of the year requires more out of us. The pressures of engaging in social activities can produce feelings of anxiety, reaching the point where you would prefer not to go. You could also feel the squeeze of trying to buy gifts for everyone when money is tight. And all the demands of holiday gatherings could lead to you feeling exhausted and worn thin.

It can also be difficult for those who live far away from family and friends. The commercials of family gatherings and the memories of previous holidays can make you feel isolated and alone. And these feelings can result in depression symptoms.

Symptoms of Holiday Depression

Some of the most common behaviors associated with depression are:

  1. You lack interest in doing anything. You would rather shut down and stay away from others. You might cancel plans with friends or loved ones because you do not feel like going.
  2. You might also feel more fatigued. Having depression can wear you out emotionally and physically, resulting in feelings of restlessness even after a good night’s sleep.
  3. You also experience trouble concentrating on tasks.
  4. You express feelings of sadness, apathy, or emptiness.
  5. You could also have either a reduction in appetite or a sudden increase in it.

How Do I Feel Better During the Holidays?

  1. The first step is to admit you are feeling depressed. On its own, it isn’t an easy step to do. But it gives you power because you’re willing to acknowledge how you feel.
  2. From here, share with a friend or loved one how you’re feeling and what triggers those feelings. They can serve as an accountability partner to be there for you when you feel down or empty.
  3. Find healthy activities to help boost your mood. Eating healthy, refraining from drinking, and exercising are all steps you can do to feel better.
  4. You can also expand your social circle. If you don’t know anyone near you, try meeting people who share the same interests. You can find local groups on Meta (previously Facebook) or Meetup. You could also try a new activity like a book club, exercise class, or hobby to meet others.
  5. It is okay to say no. If you feel overwhelmed, you must strike a balance between doing everything you want to do and wearing yourself out.

Help is Here When You Need It

The holidays are a difficult time for those suffering from depression. In a survey of people diagnosed with mental illnesses, 64% said the holidays worsened their conditions. The study suggests the holiday season places a magnifying glass on why people with depression struggle.

If you experience any depression symptoms and want to talk, feel free to reach out to us at Pace Recovery Center. We offer inpatient and outpatient treatment programs for depression.

PTSD Symptoms in Men

Post-traumatic stress disorder affects 3.5% of adults every year. While women are twice as likely to incur PTSD, men still are susceptible to it–especially if you experienced a traumatic event or have a dangerous job. This guide examines the causes of PTSD in men, symptoms displayed, and treatment options available.

What Causes Men to Have PTSD?

Often, men experience post-traumatic stress disorder after:

  • Witnessing a horrific event like murder or accident.
  • Suffering verbal, sexual, or physical abuse.
  • Experiencing combat as a member of the military.
  • Working as a first responder, where the nature of the job involves helping people in terrifying and life-threatening situations.
  • Working as a police officer puts people in contact with abuse victims and traumatizing experiences.
  • Surviving a life-threatening event.

PTSD Symptoms in Men

Typically, symptoms fall into one of these four categories:

Intrusive Thoughts

It is common for men to relive their experiences through flashbacks, nightmares, and other memories. The memory can be so vivid you feel like you are back in the event again. Moreover, you might experience triggers like noises or words that draw you back to the traumatic event. A car backfiring might mimic gunshots, or the wail of police sirens might catalyze thoughts of a bad accident.

Disassociation

Men with PTSD might avoid any scenario that makes them address this memory. It can include places, similar events (like driving), and people.

Alterations in Mood

Men might have feelings of guilt, frustration, and fear. They might blame themselves for what happened. Furthermore, their experience might make them feel like they cannot trust anyone. If you have PTSD, you may revert away from people you know or activities you like.

Changes in Behavior

Those with PTSD might be prone to bursts of irritability, be overly protective, and engage in self-destructive behaviors like drinking. It can also lead to a decrease in sleep quality and concentration.

Do PTSD Symptoms Go Away on Their Own?

You might experience PTSD within three months after the traumatic event happened. However, in other instances, memories might surface years later.

It is common for symptoms of PTSD to vary in intensity over time. However, the behavior patterns formed to combat this disorder could live longer than the memories do. To illustrate, you attempt to self-medicate to avoid these feelings and memories through drinking. It is why being proactive in receiving treatment for PTSD can help alleviate these symptoms and lead to more promising outcomes.

Help Tailored to Your Needs

If you want to talk about your PTSD symptoms, feel free to reach out to our admissions counselors. We’ll help you learn about all the treatment options available to you.

Why Men Hide Their Feelings

Men are often hesitant to express their true emotions, which can lead to serious issues in their lives. They may be viewed as cold or distant. They can even develop mental health issues when attempting to suppress how they truly feel. There are a number of reasons why men hide their feelings.

Gender Differences in Emotion Words

Emotional diversity is important to a person’s mental health. Individuals who experience a diversity of both positive and negative emotions tend to report fewer symptoms of issues such as depression. Emotions serve as a guidepost for the human experience, as they draw attention to the important markers in an individual’s environments, acting as warning signs of things that need to be noticed, processed, or changed.

However, research has suggested that emotionally diversity is not fostered in young boys. In one study of conversations between mothers and their young children, the mothers who interacted with daughters used an emotion vocabulary of greater depth and density. The mothers’ conversations with sons tended to focus on a single emotion, anger.

A Narrower Range of Emotions

Boys tend to grow up in a world focused on a narrow range of emotions. Anger is typically the emotion that is noticed and perhaps even cultivated among young males. The other emotions, especially those that indicate vulnerability, are ignored or are missing as their young minds develop.

The lack of emotional diversity in young males can have long-term problematic consequences, perhaps helping to explain why men hide their feelings. As boys who avoid strong emotions grow up, they are more likely to have issues with school and even engage in health-risk behaviors such as substance use. When those boys mature into men, they tend to suppress their emotions more than women, which can lead them to experience symptoms of depression.

Aggressive behavior can also develop when men hide their feelings, as they experience trouble regulating their emotions. The skills that enable an individual to control their emotions are gained through practice so when a man did not have that experience growing up, he may feel he does not have permission to experience and express a full range of emotions in a healthy manner.

Discouraging Displays of Emotion

Likewise, when men are growing up they are exposed to messages that discourage them from expressing any emotions other than anger. At the same time, they are encouraged to act dominant in any given situation. A young boy who expresses his feelings may hear responses from adults in his life such as “boys don’t cry” or “don’t cry like a girl.” He might be told to “man up” or to “be a man and get over it.”

Even when experiencing a painful physical injury, a young man may think he is not supposed to show emotions as he has learned to avoid expressing his real feelings. He will then begin to bottle up his frustration and sadness. Over time, this behavior can lead to a dysfunctional emotional expression as well as mental health issues such as depression.

Different Symptoms of Depression

An understanding of why men hide their feelings can lead to an understanding of what they go through when they are experiencing the symptoms of depression. A man can have very different depression symptoms than a woman. Men who are depressed may appear to be aggressive or anger rather than sad, given their training that has taught them to suppress their emotions.

Even though depression affects a large number of men, they are less likely than women to talk about their depression and to seek treatment for their mental health concerns. Men can become irritable or very tired, losing interest in their family and work. They may have more difficulty sleeping when they experience depression than women. They may even have physical issues such as a tightening chest, headaches, or stomach problems.

Family and friends may be the first to recognize that a man in their life is depressed, since the man himself tends to avoid addressing his feelings. It is important to support him and encourage him to seek treatment from a mental health professional, particularly if his depression has led to a substance use disorder.

Mental Health and Addiction Support for Men

If you are experiencing mental health or substance use issues, we want to help get you back on track with your life. At PACE Recovery, we optimize your recovery success with integrated treatment that will address both your addiction to drugs or alcohol and your mental health issues. We address your whole person, including your spiritual, medical, psychosocial, and relational facets.

The professionals at PACE understand the challenges you are facing during this period of isolation and uncertainty. We’re here to help. Our men’s-only programming has transformed hundreds of lives over the years, and we believe that you can recover. To learn more about our mental health and addiction services, contact our Admissions team.

The Myth of Adopted Child Syndrome

Adoption can be a happy and positive event. The child who is adopted finds a new home and a supportive family. However, the very need for a child to be adopted means that they have experienced a loss of some sort and that can cause some issues, often well into adulthood. There is a myth of Adopted Child Syndrome that is controversial and does not tell the true story of issues faced by adopted individuals.

Adoption Awareness Month

November is National Adoption Awareness Month, a time to focus on the continuing need for the adoption of children in the US, especially teenagers. The theme for 2021 is “Conversations Matter,” as it’s important to talk about adoption, particularly with the young people who are in the foster system or who have been adopted. This month and throughout the year, having that conversation will create an environment where the adopted individual knows they can be honest and ask questions that are important to them.

A Controversial Term

The term Adopted Child Syndrome was first used in 1978 by Dr. David Kirschner. The term has become controversial, is not included in the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), and is not considered a valid diagnosis. It has been used to describe the behavioral and emotional challenges that adopted children may experience, including problematic behaviors such as violence or defiance. However, Dr. Kirschner said that he used it to describe a very small clinical subgroup of individuals at the time of his study.

Adoption Challenges

There are legitimate issues facing adopted children and, in fact, some individuals have challenges throughout their adult lives because of the trauma they faced through their loss earlier in life. While adoption can give the child the loving, permanent home they need, the fact they need a new home can have negative effects on their mental and emotional health.

A young person who is adopted can struggle with low self-esteem, identity issues, difficulty forming emotional attachments, and a sense of loss or grief over the loss of their birth family. These negative effects can be short-lived and resolved once the adoptee feels an increased sense of security, but they can also arise in the individual during times of emotional stress throughout their lives.

Mental Health Issues

Several research studies indicate that there is an increased risk of mental health issues for adults who are adoptees. Studies found higher levels of anxiety, including panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, as well as depression among participants who had been adopted. The studies also found higher levels of behavioral disorders, certain personality disorders, and neuroticism.

Substance Abuse

In addition to the trauma of loss experienced by individuals who are adopted, there may have been issues with drug or alcohol addiction in the adoptee’s birth family that were at least partially responsible for that loss. The issues faced by the adopted child, coupled with certain genetic factors, could also lead to an increased rate of substance abuse that lasts into adulthood without appropriate treatment.

Research has found that the prevalence of a lifetime substance use disorder was 43% higher in individuals who had been adopted, compared with non-adoptees. The lifetime prevalence rates of alcohol use disorders was 41% and the rate of nicotine addiction was 25.4% for adoptees. The rates of illegal drug abuse in individuals who were adopted ranged from 2.9% for opioids to 13.2% for cannabis.

Adoption Competence in Treatment Options

One survey that was identified by the research studies revealed that about half of the participants were seeking therapy for a variety of reasons, including self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and family issues. Almost a fourth of the survey respondents noted that adoption competence was the highest factor in their choice of a therapist for their mental health issues. Having a mental health professional who specialized in their particular situation made a difference in terms of having someone who truly understands their stresses and challenges as adoptees.

Specialists in Adoption-Related Treatment

The professionals at PACE Recovery Center understand the struggles you may encounter as an adoptee, particularly in regard to adoption trauma and abandonment and attachment issues. Please contact PACE Recovery Center if you have been adopted or are an adoptive parent and struggle with alcohol, drugs, and mental illness. Our gender-specific, evidence-based addiction recovery center for men will help you begin the healing process and begin a remarkable journey. During these challenging times, our highly skilled team is adhering to COVID-19 guidelines to ensure you remain safe and healthy. You can reach us today at 800-526-1851.