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Men's Health Week: 5 Common Questions About Men's Physical and Mental Health

This week is Men's Health Week and at neurocare we want to take this chance to reflect upon five core factors of men's health that become more relevant in the backdrop of the surging economic and personal pressures of 2022.  We converged five key areas which are important beyond what neurocare offers in its clinical practice: 

Are regular health screenings useful for men (and when should I get screened)?

Serious health conditions like prostate cancer and heart disease, can be managed and treated if they are identified early.  This may not be on the radar for men under the age of 45 but many chronic conditions incepted earlier can be managed much more effectively when discovered at a young age. Testicular tumours are the most common form of cancer for men between the ages of 20 and 40 (1). Moreover, we are becoming more and more aware of the relevance our hormone balance. For men, testoterone plays a key role in the mediation of general well-being and a dysbalance may cause or amplify several health conditions (1). Thus, seeing you urologist even if you are in your twenties can really payoff later!

Is mental health as important as physical health?

At neurocare, our focus is mental health. Did you know that men aged 40-49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK (2). Additionally, men are nearly three times more likely than women to become dependent on alcohol or report other regular drug use (2). Meanwhile, men are far less likely to access therapies for these conditions - only 36% of referrals to the NHS talk-therapies are for male patients (2)Taking time to prioritise mental health is key.. If you want to establish ways to manage the multitude of influences on your mental health, health coaching services may be a good fit for you.

Does getting enough sleep matter for men?

In the US 15-30% of males meet a broad definition of obstructive sleep apnea (5). With rising economic pressure and in combination with gender stigmatisation, men tend to prioritise sleep less than women and are less likely to take measures regarding sleep hygiene (6). Our motivation, energy, concentration, behaviour, memory, mood and ability to learn are all affected by lack of sleep. Sleep issues underlie a wide range of mental health problems and can cause or exacerbate symptoms in ADHDdepressionOCD, anxiety and general learning, behavioural or mood disorders. Sleeping is at the core of health and working with clinical services that understand this, is key.

Why is cognitive exercise so important for men?

A survey analysis of more than 10.000 Americans conducted by the University of Michigan found that the dementia rate decreased by about 24 per cent from 2000 to 2012 (3). The researchers point out that there is a correlative association between years of education and this decline since during the same time the average number of years of education increased from approximately 12 to 13 (3). While we may say that this effect is caused by mediating factors such as awareness of diet and other lifestyle elements, it is clear that performing mentally stimulating tasks often improves cognitive function and reduces the impact of ageing on the brain. Education contributes to the brain's natural ability to change and adapt (neuroplasticity) and thus acts like "oil in the engine" (3). Also: Why not learn something new once in a while? It's fun and healthy.

How important is physical activity with regards to my (mental and physical) health?

"Healthier lifestyle" is a perfect transition to our next topic: Physical activity. Of course, we all know that it is important to move but did you know that physical inactivity is one of the leading risk factors for non-communicable disease mortality? The WHO reports that individuals who are insufficiently active have a 20% to 30% increased mortality risk as compared to adults that move regularly (4). In fact, as the report shows, some physical activity is already far better than doing none and helps evade a lot of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, bone and functional conditions and obesity. However, we also know that physical activity vastly improves mental health (4) which is why we at neurocare put an emphasise on a functional understanding of the human mind.

Personalisation is key to good health - especially in times of uncertainty!

In fact, all these factors are intertwined. Being active promotes healthy sleep - training cognitive abilities enables better focus and resilience which in turn supports mental health and performance (physical and mental).

The increasing economic pressure this century places a strain on all of us. While inflation is at its all-time high in most countries in the global West and fears of a global depression appear, pressure on the job markets is rising amid a shortage of highly-trained workers. Just after the impact of a global pandemic seems to have mellowed, the sparks of global conflict are taking centre stage in many people's minds.  These stressors only further put our health (and men's health) at risk.

Working with health professionals who respect the psychosomatic nature of health, the interconnectedness of body and mind offers more promising and sustainable outcomes from care. 

 

Sources:

(1) Vorsorge-Untersuchungen für Männer - Urologe Dr. Frank Sommer - Prof. Dr. Sommer (maennergesundheit.info)

(2) Mental health statistics: men and women | Mental Health Foundation

(3) Does Higher Learning Combat Dementia? | Johns Hopkins Medicine
(4) Physical activity (who.int)

(5) Sleep Statistics - Facts and Data About Sleep 2022 | Sleep Foundation

(6) How Is Sleep Different For Men and Women? | Sleep Foundation

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