19 signs a man is silently struggling and needs your support

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Not every man who struggles will want to admit that fact. In our society, many men are made to feel as though they need to bottle it up and carry on no matter how they feel. Plenty of men still feel that way despite the many strides that have been made toward improving men’s mental health. These signs may indicate a man who is silently struggling and needs support.

1. He withdraws from other people.

Isolation is an unhealthy coping skill that many struggling men use. Not only do you avoid spending your limited social energy, but you also avoid other people noticing and asking too many questions.

2. He may start to neglect personal hygiene and appearance.

Generally, a person who is slipping into a bad mental space will lose the energy to care about or maintain their appearance. That may be neglecting personal hygiene, wearing the same clothes, or not taking care to look presentable.

3. He won’t share his thoughts and feelings.

“I’m fine” is the most common response of a man struggling who wants you to think he’s not struggling. It’s an easy way to deflect without opening up. Of course, “I’m fine” can also be a valid response, but if it comes with other signs then it may not be the truth.

4. The way he controls his emotions changes.

Surface emotions can point to hidden struggles. Particularly, drastic changes in emotions may indicate something is wrong. They aren’t always negative either. Many suicidal people seem to be better before they make an attempt. He may experience dramatic mood shifts for no reason.

5. He may experience more frustration, anger, or irritability.

Anger is a symptom of depression in men that isn’t talked about enough. The change in stress may cause his patience to drop where he becomes more emotionally volatile than he normally would be.

6. He may demonstrate persistent sadness or a decline in mood over time.

A person who is doing well doesn’t exist in a consistent state of sadness or bad moods. There is a reason for those emotions that may not be easy to see on the surface.

7. He may experience an increase in anxiety or worry.

An increase in general anxiety or worry may indicate that someone is struggling with something they aren’t talking about. Emotional resiliency can wear down, like a rock in a stream. As it does, smaller things and abstract problems may cause greater and greater emotional reactions.

8. He can’t or won’t make decisions anymore.

Decision fatigue happens when a person is so overwhelmed by making decisions that their brain just stops doing it. Decision fatigue may point to being overwhelmed, which could point to a man silently struggling.

9. He may express hopelessness in general conversation.

Hopelessness may be either direct or masked in jokes. It’s easy enough to see hopelessness in blatant statements like, “Things aren’t going to get better.” But it may also appear in jokes about nihilism, self-deprecating jokes, or jokes about how bad life generally is.

10. He may mark dark or suicide jokes.

Many people enjoy dark humor because it’s a way to cope. However, there comes a point where it goes from dark humor to concerning. People who are in a good mental space don’t typically make regular suicide jokes or statements that they then backtrack as a joke.

11. He may view himself as unimportant.

A man may view himself as unimportant because of a lack of self-esteem. However, if he has generally been positive about himself and experiences a negative shift, it may be that there are new stressors in his life that are making him feel like less of a person.

12. His sleep patterns have changed.

Stress affects sleep in different ways. Depression may cause you to sleep too much while stress may cause you not to sleep much at all. If the way a person sleeps changes, it may indicate that something in their life has changed for the worse. As a result, he may regularly look exhausted and tired.

13. His eating habits have changed.

Similar to sleep, eating is often affected by distress. Some use eating as an unhealthy coping skill. Others may stop eating or eat very little when they are in distress.

14. He may start avoiding his responsibilities and tasks.

People who are struggling tend to have a difficult time keeping up with consistent responsibilities. They often don’t have the mental or emotional energy to care, so they just don’t do the things they aren’t currently caring about.

15. He may exhibit a drop in performance at work or school.

Mental and emotional struggles take a toll on mental sharpness and energy levels. That may look like worse performance in the workplace or school which requires both, as well as the energy to be social.

16. He’s lost interest in things he likes.

A common symptom of struggling and depression is losing interest in things you like. They do not stimulate the same interest or provide the dopamine that they otherwise would because the stress mutes it. Then, the person just loses interest.

17. He indulges in more escapism and entertainment than usual.

Everyone needs a little escapism and entertainment from time to time. However, you can get an idea that someone is struggling when they are distracting themselves more than usual. A distraction from what’s going on in their mind and life is what these things are. An increase in those may point to an increase in stress and struggle.

18. He suddenly starts taking more risks.

Similarly to escapism, he may start taking more risks because he is trying to feel and experience something other than what is going on in his head. That may also include self-destructive behaviors like promiscuity or substance abuse.

19. He just doesn’t seem right.

Often, when a person starts struggling, they start exhibiting changes in behavior that you may pick up on but not be able to describe. It could be small, subtle things that you can tell are off but you can’t quite articulate why. You may not be able to consciously interpret it, but the changes in their behavior and demeanor is something you could pick up on subconsciously.

What should you do?

If you feel that something is off, ask. Let him know that you are happy to listen if he’s having a hard time. That way, he knows he has someone to talk to if he needs to.

About The Author

Jack Nollan is a mental health writer of 10 years who pairs lived experience with evidence-based information to provide perspectives from the side of the mental health consumer. Jack has lived with Bipolar Disorder and Bipolar-depression for almost 30 years. With hands-on experience as the facilitator of a mental health support group, Jack has a firm grasp of the wide range of struggles people face when their mind is not in the healthiest of places. Jack is an activist who is passionate about helping disadvantaged people find a better path.