Are you struggling to find pleasure in your life?
Do you find yourself feeling low even when many things in your life seem to be going right? Do you lay awake at night with thoughts that never seem to end? Are you in a relationship but have a chronic feeling that you’re not good enough? Maybe you find yourself constantly walking on eggshells to prevent your partner from blowing up / leaving you / drinking?
You worked hard to get to where you are now and although things are going well on the outside, you can’t seem to figure out how to feel fulfilled on the inside. Your anxiety or low mood is getting in the way of enjoying new experiences and connecting with loved ones. Perhaps your emotions have become intense and hard to hide, and you are frequently crying or yelling in an effort to express your internal struggle. Perhaps you experience peak emotional states during your menses that are causing you distress.
Are you plagued with second-guessing yourself? Has a bad relationship or transition caused you to rethink your decisions? Are you feeling confused because your partner doesn’t seem to value you or all the love and support you put into the relationship? Not trusting your instincts is something you have struggled with all along, but deep down inside you know that something isn’t right. When you can’t pinpoint the cause or how to feel better, it often leads to feeling hopeless.
Wanting more is normal
Many women go through a period when they start to look at their lives and wonder “Is this it?” Often, this self-evaluation comes at a time when things might not be so great, when you need to be asking these questions because your gut is telling you that your job, relationships, or life path is not on track. Reflection is a way to help ourselves move toward goals and get our needs met.
Men and Mood Changes
While men and women can both experience difficult emotions, men typically experience them differently.
For men, feeling “off” can creep up and then sink in without obvious triggers. These symptoms include:
- Feeling very tired
- Loss of interest in work, family or hobbies
- Difficulty sleeping
Many men do not recognize, acknowledge or seek help for their change in mood. They may be reluctant to talk about it, or think that it is just a passing phase. In fact, it could be a passing phase, but if it has been going on for weeks, then it is time to get it checked out. Perhaps there are hormonal changes taking place, or perhaps something suppressed from the past got triggered, and the old coping mechanisms just aren’t working anymore.
According to Dr. Darshan Mehta, medical director of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, “Speaking for my gender, there are two qualities that define most men: we seldom like to ask for help, and we do not like to talk about our feelings. Combining the two — asking for help about our feelings — is the ultimate affront to many men’s masculinity. We like to think of ourselves as strong, problem-solver types. But when it comes to emotional and mental issues, men need to quit trying to bottle up their feelings and tough it out.” He adds, “Your mental health is equally as important as your physical health. Not addressing negative feelings can carry over to all aspects of your life and have a profound impact.”
However, with the right therapy, most men can get better and gain back their interest in work, family and hobbies.
What are some causes of mood changes in men?
- Genes: men with a family history of depression, anxiety or substance abuse may be more likely to develop it.
- Brain chemistry and hormones.
- Stress: loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, work deadlines and demands, or any stressful circumstance that does not get resolved satisfactorily.
Most of the time it is a combination of these factors.
Four ways to help myself if I am struggling:
- See a professional as soon as possible. Research shows that seeking treatment sooner than later can reduce the time treatment is needed.
- Breakup large tasks into small tasks. Do what you can. Don’t try to do too many things at once.
- Spend time with other people and talk to a friend or relative about your feelings.
- Do not make important decisions until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well.
Talking with a counselor is all about getting you to a place of understanding, empowerment and motivation. Dr. Jane Baxter will help you see things in a new light, help you recognize the strengths you have and work with you to identify your needs so you can finally get them met in all aspects of your life. She will work collaboratively with you to design the life you hope for, help you build confidence in your vision, and strategize with you on how to achieve the fulfilling relationships you’re missing.
When to see a therapist
Depression is the most common reason men should seek professional help. Again, many life situations — jobs, relationships — can trigger its trademark symptoms, such as prolonged sadness, lack of energy, and a constant feeling of stress. For older men, it can also be brought on by financial anxiety about retirement, the death of a spouse or friend, or even the loss of independence, like losing the ability to drive. Left unchecked, these feelings could cause other health problems, such as rapid weight loss, insomnia, declining libido, and changes in memory. They may even lead to destructive behavior like alcohol or opioid dependence.
“While men may recognize these changes when they occur, they may not know the root cause, or if they do, what they can do about it,” says Dr. Mehta. This is when a therapist can lend a hand — or ear. “A therapist can help identify the source of your problems and then help resolve them,” he adds.
You might still have questions…
Is this something that I can even afford?
Counseling is an investment in yourself that will last a lifetime. The changes you make through counseling can help improve your mood, give you the tools you need to turn off negative thoughts, and create a strategy that can lead to a lifetime of success. Counseling does not even have to be a long-term commitment to get lasting results. Additionally, insurance will often cover a percentage of the sessions.
Will counseling really work?
Many men try toughing it out, or working or exercising harder. Does this sound like you? Counseling is proven to be an extremely effective tool for many of life’s challenges and is one of the most effective treatments for upsetting mood and behavior changes. Your commitment to counseling will be the key to your success. If you come with a desire to work on the issues you are experiencing, attend sessions regularly, and are willing to collaborate with your counselor, then you will get the support you need to reach your goals.
I’m afraid I will have to talk about things I’m not ready to discuss.
In counseling, you are the one in control. You decide what you want to talk about and always have the right to put on the brakes if the conversation is going toward a topic you don’t feel comfortable discussing. Dr. Baxter will work hard to create a supportive and safe atmosphere to explore. Counseling can also provide exercises which can help gently push you into new insights and healing that may be difficult to do on your own or without a trained professional. Also, Dr. B will be working with you to build a “tool bag” of strategies that will help you cope with difficult feelings so that you feel more confident in your ability to handle anything in the future.
Dr. Jane Baxter provides services in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. If you want to find out more about how counseling can help you, contact Dr. B via email: firstname.lastname@example.org 202-744-4381.
Professional Activities and Memberships
Member of the American Academy of Psychotherapists