Relationship Impairments Keep Men From Mental Health Treatment

A new study out of the Boston University School of Medicine found that relationship impairment – defined as the difficulty in the management of expectations and requirements within the confines of an intimate relationship — plays a vital role in the link between symptom severity and those looking for treatment among post-September 11th military veterans. That being said, the role it plays varies between men and women, according to ScienceDaily.

In men, relationship impairment can interfere with the seeking of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. On the other hand, for women, it actually can facilitate treatment seeking. It seems that symptom severity is known as a predictor of treatment seeking; however, the role of work and relationship impairment between the two remains unclear.

In this study, researchers surveyed more than 350 post-9/11 veterans to determine the contribution of relationship and work impairment to women and men suffering from stress disorder PTSD and depression.

  • In men, treatment-seeking declined when accompanied by high relationship impairment.
  • In women, relationship impairment was a mediator of the positive link between PTSD symptom severity and service.

The results show how important the role of relationship impairment in veterans’ treatment-seeking is, showcasing the value of the implementation of gender-informed approaches to treatment promotion. Researchers aren’t entirely clear on why there’s a difference in treatment-seeking between the sexes.

But they speculate that it can be attributed to the different role that relationships often play in the lives of both men and women, specifically in the ability of women to be better attuned to emphasis on relationships.

Why Men Don’t Reach Out

On the whole, men don’t reach out for mental health help nearly as much as their female counterparts do. Depression is difficult to talk about, whether as a result of military service and PTSD or not – and it’s even harder for men because of the stigma attached. Sadly, many men end up in a silent struggle for years, only reaching out when they have reached rock bottom. Sadly, others never look for help, which is one of the reasons why men make up 3.5 times the number of suicides as women, says the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Depression is one of the top causes of suicide.

Fighting depression is difficult, and for men, the fear of looking unmanly or weak to others can add to the pressure. Anger and shame are forms of self-protection that ultimately keep men from seeking the treatment they need.

Contact Comprehensive MedPsych Systems

If you are a man suffering from depression, PTSD, or any other disorder – military veteran or not – please reach out for help. Comprehensive MedPsych Systems has the professionals and resources to get you the treatment you need within a comfortable, accepting environment. Contact us today to book your appointment.