Category Archives: Mental Health

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.

 

How to Help a Depressed Son

When your child is struggling with a mental health issue, it can be heartbreaking and frustrating. You want to help but are not sure what to do or how to do it. Learning more about how to help a depressed son can benefit him and you, so that you each can find the health and well-being you need.

Know That You Are Not Alone

If you have a young son who has shown symptoms of depression, you might feel like you are all alone in your concerns for his mental health. In fact, though, about 17% of young people between the ages of 6 and 17 experience a mental health disorder. Half of all mental illness typically starts by age 14 and 75% starts by the age of 24.

Learn About Mental Illness

One of the best things you can do to help a depressed son is to learn as much as you can about the condition as well as about mental illness in general. Understand that mental illness is a health condition. Although you may not be able to prevent it, the illness can be treated.

There are many causes of mental illness, including genetics, changes in the brain, hormones, and brain chemistry. While you may feel as though you did not do enough to prevent your son from developing depression, it may well have resulted from nature rather than nurture. What’s most important is that you now acknowledge your son’s mental illness for what it is, so that you can help him address it appropriately.

College Depression

If your son is away at college, it may be more difficult to recognize the symptoms of depression. Likewise, your child might be more hesitant to ask for help out of an embarrassment or a fear of not fitting in with his college crowd. Your son’s depression can get in the way of his academic success and can increase the likelihood of high risk behaviors, including substance abuse and binge drinking.

Steps to Help a Depressed Son

As a parent, you want nothing more than for your child to have a normal, happy life. If your son is experiencing depression, it’s critical that you are able to accept that the way his brain works is a part of who he is, at any age. That’s a difficult step for you and your son, but it’s important you work with him and with a professional mental health provider to find a new normal for him, one that can leverage his strengths, capabilities, and interests.

Knowing that you are not alone, reach out to support groups so that you will have someone to talk to about the challenges you and your son are experiencing. Others in these groups are going through the same issues and the same victories as you. Each person in the group can learn from the other parents, as you share openly and honestly.

Listen to your son when he does open up to you about what he is feeling, without being judgmental. As a parent, it’s tempting to tell him what he should and should not be doing, even about what he is experiencing mentally. When asking questions to learn more about his mental illness, ask “how” or “what” questions, rather than “why” questions.

Help Your Son Get the Help He Needs

Reach out to a mental health specialist, such as the professionals who specialize in treating young men at PACE Recovery. Your son needs appropriate therapy to treat his illness, just as he would need the right treatment if he were suffering from a physical illness. Evidence-based treatment tailored to a young man’s specific needs has been proven to be more effective in helping individuals like your son better manage their symptoms of depression.

Help for Your Son is Here at PACE

When you want to help your son with his mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and mood disorders, reach out to the professionals at PACE Recovery. We optimize each person’s recovery success with integrated treatment that addresses their specific mental health and substance use issues.

At PACE, we 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 your son can recover. To learn more about our mental health and addiction services, contact our Admissions team.

What Causes Depression in Men?

The month of October is designated as a time to take a closer look at depression and how it may affect your mental health. In particular, October 7 is National Depression Screening Day. Men often don’t recognize depression in themselves, which is one of the reasons it’s so important to learn the symptoms as well as to understand when and how to get treatment. It’s also critical to know what causes depression in men.

National Depression Screening Day

Mental Illness Awareness Week runs from October 3-9. During this time, healthcare providers emphasize that we are “Together for Mental Health.” Screening for depression can be done anonymously and confidentially. Mental Health America (MHA) offers a free screening tool that can help you understand more about your symptoms. The screening is not a diagnosis but can be useful as you recognize the need to reach out for treatment.

Holding in Emotions

While a man may believe that he needs to hide his emotions, particularly if he is experiencing the symptoms of depression, that can actually be unhealthy both mentally and physically. Even today, there continues to be a stigma around depression, especially in men. However, it is critically important to understand both the causes and the effects and to seek out treatment.

Recognizing Depression in Men

Recognizing the symptoms is the first step toward getting help. National Screening Day emphasizes the need to understand more about how depression may be affecting you as a man. For some men, it may be a challenge to discuss their experience and they may simply turn to their work to try to stay busy and ignore the signs.

Men are also more likely than women to turn to drugs or alcohol to try to cope with their symptoms. This can lead to even more devastating consequences.

Depression Symptoms

The most serious symptom is the thought of or attempt at suicide, in both men and women. About 9% of men experience the feelings of depression or anxiety every day and over 31% experience a period of depression at some point during their lifetime. Although depression is more common in women, the number of men who die by suicide is four times that of women. While more women attempt suicide, men are more likely to use more lethal methods.

The symptoms of depression can appear very differently in men. In fact, many men do not recognize the symptoms in themselves, and it can be up to family and close friends to recognize some of the signs. Men tend to suppress their feelings and so their sadness can actually manifest outwardly as anger or aggression.

Additional symptoms of depression in men can include:

  • Loss of interest in work, family, or activities that were once pleasurable
  • Feeling anxious, restless, or “on the edge”
  • Feeling sad, “empty,” flat, or hopeless
  • Problems with sexual desire and performance
  • Not being able to concentrate or remember details
  • Feeling very tired, not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
  • Overeating or not wanting to eat at all
  • Inability to meet the responsibilities of work, caring for family, or other important activities
  • Physical aches or pains, including headaches and stomach issues
  • Withdrawing from family and friends or becoming isolated
  • Engaging in high-risk activities.

What Causes Depression in Men?

There are a number of factors in a man’s life that can potentially be the source of his depression. If he has a family history of the condition, he will be more likely to experience depression. That doesn’t necessarily mean he will if a family member also has it, but the chances are increased.

Environmental stress can also be a factor. When a man experiences financial problems or problems at work, it can be very stressful. Any kind of major life change, such as losing a loved one or going through a difficult relationship can also be the cause of depression in a man.

A physical condition can also be the source of the mental health condition. A man who has a serious medical issue, such as cancer or heart disease, may become depressed. While the physical illness can make the mental illness worse, the opposite is also true. Men with depression can experience worsened physical symptoms.

The use and misuse of alcohol or drugs can also cause depression in men. These substances can make feelings of isolation and loneliness worse. Alcohol, especially, is a depressant and can increase the sense of fatigue and sadness in a man.

Help for Men is Here at PACE

Screening is critical to understanding the causes of depression as well as the symptoms, so you can get the help you need. Asking for help is a sign of strength. When you need help with your mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and mood disorders, reach out to the professionals at PACE Recovery. We optimize your recovery success with integrated treatment that addresses your mental health and substance use issues.

At PACE, we 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.

Social Isolation Among Men

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation and loneliness were impacting men in significant numbers. While everyone needs to be alone every once in a while, the effects of social isolation among men has led many to experience the symptoms of loneliness.

Isolation and Loneliness Pre-Pandemic

A survey conducted in 2019 found that loneliness was more common among men. The report details the fact that, pre-pandemic, 63% of men said they were lonely, compared with 58% of women. Several factors were identified in the report, including workplace culture and conditions at the time. Other factors included the use of social media, with 73% of the heaviest social media users considered to be lonely, compared with 52% of light users.

There were a few generational differences, although the feelings of isolation were found to be prevalent across all generations. Younger people, between the ages of 18 and 22, had the highest average loneliness score and Baby Boomers had the lowest. In terms of working conditions, people with good co-worker relationships were less lonely as were those who reported a good work-life balance.

During the Pandemic

A separate study conducted in October 2020 found that 61% of those young people, between the ages of 18 and 25 in this survey, reported high levels of feeling lonely. Just over a third of all respondents, 36%, reported feeling lonely “frequently” or “almost all the time or all the time” in the previous four weeks.

This new study also points to the symptoms of loneliness that can lead to a downward spiral for some people. The young people who reported serious loneliness also said they were feeling as though no one “genuinely cared” about them. Survey participants who said they were lonely often felt they were reaching out or listening to other people more than those other people were reaching out or listening to them.

During the pandemic, the guidance and restrictions requiring “social distancing” have led to an increase in social isolation. This sense of isolation has increased the feelings of loneliness, having an adverse impact on individuals’ mental and physical health. Throughout the pandemic, women who live alone may be more likely to feel lonely, but men are less likely to reach out for help for their loneliness, out of a self-perceived need to appear strong.

Some Men Are Truly Lonely

Social isolation among men may have more of an impact than is being reported. The burden of being alone is particularly difficult for men to bear, often with devastating consequences. Alexander Tsai, MD, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has reported that men who don’t have strong social ties commit suicide at over the twice of the rate of those men who are able to surround themselves with supportive friends and family members.

Although many men like to be independent and enjoy some time alone, some men are truly lonely. Loneliness is the perception that an individual lacks or has lost meaningful social relationships. Loneliness can occur in social isolation, which is the actual measurable loss of social contact. It is also possible for a man to feel lonely even when he is not socially isolated. A man’s desire for connection with others may not match the reality of his situation, as he may have few friends or social contacts that satisfy his needs.

Symptoms of Loneliness

There are many mental and physical health ramifications of feeling lonely. It can impair an individual’s ability to sleep, and it can drive unhealthy behaviors, such as using drugs or alcohol. Social isolation among men may keep them from seeking medical care for their symptoms and may increase their stress level.

Loneliness has also been associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety, as well as an increased incidence of cancer. Although neither loneliness nor social isolation have been connected with prostate cancer in men, being single without a support network has been associated with poorer survival outcomes for cancer patients. In addition, loneliness among middle-aged men is associated with an increased likelihood of cancer, including lung cancer.

A Symptom of Depression

Loneliness can make an individual feel empty or unwanted. An individual who is experiencing the symptoms of loneliness may find it more difficult to form connections with other people. Loneliness can also be a symptom of depression or other psychological disorders. Depression, in particular, causes an individual to withdraw socially and that can lead to social isolation among men. In turn, loneliness can be a factor contributing to the symptoms of depression.

Mental Health Treatment for Men at PACE

If you are experiencing loneliness, depression, or the effects of social isolation, reach out to the professionals at PACE Recovery. We optimize your recovery success with integrated treatment that will address both your mental health and any substance use issues you may also have developed as a result of your loneliness. We address your whole person, including your spiritual, medical, psychosocial, and relational facets.

At PACE, we 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.

 

Do You Have Health Anxiety?

When you see a new spot on your skin or start to feel a tickle in your throat, you may wonder if these are signs of a health issue. Maybe you’ve been bitten by an insect or you’re getting a cold. When you worry and stress excessively over developing a serious illness, you may have a condition known as health anxiety. During COVID-19, your anxiety about your health may have grown even more concerning.

What is Health Anxiety?

When you are preoccupied with the belief that you may have or are in danger of developing a serious illness, you might be diagnosed with health anxiety. You may be unable to function or enjoy life as others do, because you constantly fear becoming ill.

An individual with health anxiety will become obsessed with monitoring their heart and breathing rates. They will notice and stress over minor physical abnormalities such as skin blemishes and worry over the slightest headache or stomachache. Health anxiety results from misinterpreting normal bodily sensations as being dangerous and threatening.

Very Real Symptoms

Someone with health anxiety can experience real physical symptoms. They can have a stomachache, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, jitteriness, chest pressure, and other symptoms that may arise from their anxiety rather than from an issue with their physical health. However, when they experience these symptoms, they are even more convinced that something is seriously wrong with them, physically.

Looking for Symptoms

If you have health anxiety, you may convince yourself that you have valid reasons for your concerns. For example, you may have heard a news story about an illness that is spreading in another country and think that it will certainly come to the US, just as the COVID-19 virus did. You may also have a family member who had cancer or another serious disease and become convinced that you are also destined to get it.

When you start thinking about your family history or even news from halfway around the world, you start paying even more attention to your own body for symptoms. When you look for these symptoms, you will notice even the subtlest of sensations that you would otherwise just ignore.

Seeking Reassurance

People with health anxiety will find that they are in a vicious cycle when it comes to seeking reassurance from a medical professional. They will insist on multiple medical tests and may even visit the emergency room or urgent care center frequently because they believe they have contracted a serious illness. However, when the healthcare provider is unable to find a physical cause for the symptoms, this creates even more anxiety.

Health Anxiety During COVID-19

The pandemic has had a psychological effect on many individuals, especially those with a pre-existing health anxiety. The impact of the virus on physical and mental health across the globe may not be known for a while, but if you have health anxiety you know the impact COVID-19 is having on you now. During this uncertain time, you probably have even more anxiety about becoming infected. You may also worry excessively about the possibility of spreading the virus to other people.

Part of the increase in anxiety during the pandemic is the proliferation of news about the virus, its changing variants, the symptoms, and the transmission rate. These news items can make your anxiety much worse.

Steps to Help Ease Anxiety

It’s a good idea to limit your exposure to these news reports, particularly if they are not from trusted sources. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC are probably the most reliable, scientific sources of health information during the pandemic and during “normal” times.

You can also take steps to ease your anxiety by following healthy daily routines. Go outside, get some fresh air, and get some exercise. You can safely walk on open pathways as well as stretch or practice yoga to keep your body in good physical health. Mindfulness and meditation are also beneficial for your mental health.

Mental Health Treatment for Men at PACE

If you are experiencing health anxiety, you can reach out to the professionals at PACE Recovery for help. We optimize your recovery success with integrated treatment that will address both your mental health and any substance use issues you may also have developed as a result of your anxiety. We address your whole person, including your spiritual, medical, psychosocial, and relational facets.

At PACE, we 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.