Both genders feel pressure to keep quiet about their problems, but this pressure is exceptionally strong for men, and it presents a slippery slope. Men are not immune to pressures related to self-image, work and emotions, so when they’re facing challenges or struggling with negative feelings, they may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like self-medication, which can lead to addiction. These are four of the most common pressures men face.
1. Pressure to Be in Control
Because society expects men to act tough and be in control, they are less likely to ask for help than women. Men experience the full spectrum of emotions, just as women do, but are uncomfortable expressing feelings of sadness, low self-esteem, guilt and shame. Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder affect men and women equally.
Without understanding how to identify and manage emotions in healthy ways, men tend to isolate themselves further and may self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, which can exacerbate existing mental health symptoms or cause new ones.
2. Pressure to Maintain a Certain Body Image
Body image is regarded as a more “female” issue, but it also seriously affects how men view themselves. We develop body image as children, based on cues we receive from our parents, peers and the media. Unrealistic cues about how the male body is “supposed” to look can lead to unhealthy body image, which can negatively impact a man’s mental and physical health and lead to issues like depression and eating disorders.
It’s normal to feel a little self-conscious now and then, but if a man’s obsession with his appearance is interfering with his life, to the point where he is rapidly losing weight, exercising obsessively, or eating very small or very large meals, it could signal a deeper issue.
3. Pressure to Succeed in Their Career
For many men, self-worth is intrinsically tied to professional success. In fact, professional and financial success, ambition and leadership are among the most valued traits among men. 76% of Americans say men face a lot of pressure to financially support their family–significantly more pressure than women face.
With a man’s self-worth primarily determined by his income, he’s much more likely to be shamed for being supported by his partner or the government via welfare than a woman. When men feel like they don’t fit into their expected “provider” role, it can be catastrophic for their self-worth.
4. Pressure to Be Strong
Strength–both mental and physical–is a huge part of the male construct. Men are expected to be physically strong: muscular, able to overcome physical obstacles and protect those around them. They’re also expected to be mentally strong too; confident, tough, in control and emotionless. Expressing anything other than the pre-approved male emotions is a sign of weakness.
For many patients receiving treatment for substance use disorder, gender-specific treatment programsoffer a valuable break from the stressors are pressures of life. Immersion Recovery Center offers a distraction-free environment where men can feel comfortable discussing sensitive, personal issues and focus exclusively on recovery and healing. Contact us to learn more about our addiction recovery programs.