"He used to be the nicest guy you could imagine, now he's become moody and mean." I hear this bewildered concern from women all over the world. "She used to be gentle and caring, now she treats me like her worst enemy." Men are equally frustrated and confused. Millions of women and men are finding that something strange is happening to them when their relationship moves into mid-life. Sometimes I think its evolutions little joke to split us apart and send us looking for new partners to propagate the species. But for those dealing with the stresses of mid-life, it is no joking matter.
The key to saving our sanity and keeping our relationship alive and well is to understand the three inter-related life changes affecting men (and the women who love them): Male Menopause, Irritable Male Syndrome, and Male-type Depression. I sometimes think of them as the triple whammy. But with a little understanding and help from those we love, we don't have to let them do us in.
1. Male Menopause (Andropause)
When I first began research on the "male change of life" in 1995, the idea that men suffered from male menopause was seen as some kind of a joke. However, when my book, Male Menopause, was published in 1997, it drew world-wide attention, and has now been translated into over 30 languages and it is read throughout the world. This ground-breaking research uncovered the following:
- More than 35 million men in the U.S. are now going through male menopause.
- 52% of men between 40 and 70 suffer from some degree of erectile dysfunction.
- Men, like women, experience complex hormonal rhythms that affect their mood, their physical well-being, and their sexuality.
- Emotional symptoms include irritability, worry, indecisiveness, and depression.
- Physical symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, short-term memory loss, and sleep disturbances.
- Sexual symptoms include reduced libido, fear of sexual failure, and increased desire to "prove" he can still perform by seeking a younger partner.
- Male menopause (Andropause) is like puberty the second time around where a man must face issues of identity, sexuality, dependence, and independence.
- If left untreated, male menopause can destroy relationships
If you think Male Menopause may be a problem for you or the man in your life, click here for information on how to get help.
2. Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS)
In the years since Male Menopause was published more and more health-care professionals came to recognize that male menopause was real, it was serious, and it could be effectively treated. However, most professionals focused only on sexual symptoms such as erectile dysfunction and loss of sexual desire. I conducted a research study that eventually included 30,000 men as well as thousands of concerned women and found that irritability, anger, and emotional numbing were causing problems for millions of men and their partners. I reported this research in my book, The Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression:
- Key symptoms of IMS include hypersensitivity, anxiety, frustration, and anger.
- The four underlying cause of IMS are biochemical changes in brain chemistry, hormonal fluctuations, stress, and loss of male identity.
- Though it can start out mild, IMS can become extremely serious.
- The people living with the IMS male often receive the brunt of his acting out.
- Though it is most common at mid-life, it can occur at any age.
- Most men going through IMS don't recognize that it is a problem.
- The symptoms are similar to male-type depression.
- Though not easy to treat, help is available.
If you think IMS may be a problem for you or the man in your life, click here for information on how to get help.
3. Male-Type Depression
A recent study that focused on depression, suicide, and gender concluded, "Women seek help-men die."
The study found that 75% of those who sought professional help at a suicide prevention center were female. Conversely 75% of those who committed suicide in the same year were male. We know that nearly all people who commit suicide are depressed. As a clinician who has been working with both men and women over the last 43 years, I believe that millions of depressed men are not being properly diagnosed and treated because we are asking the wrong questions.
I recently completed a study focused on depressed men and women throughout the world. The findings were startling, yet revealing:
- Depressed women tend to "act-in" their pain through symptoms such as sadness, over-eating, and internal judgment of inadequacies.
- Depressed men tend to "act-out" their pain with symptoms such as chronic anger, self-destructiveness, drug use, gambling, womanizing and workaholism.
- Depressed women often illicit sympathy and receive help.
- Depressed men often generate anger and are often punished or treated for something other than depression such as alcohol or drug abuse.
- Untreated depression can cause too many men to die prematurely and too many relationships to fall apart.
If you think Male-type Depression may be a problem for you or the man in your life, click here for information on how to get help.
Is Your Relationship Being Undermined by Male Menopause, Irritable Male Syndrome, or Male-Type Depression? If you answer "yes" to 5 or more of these statements, it is likely that you need help.
- He flares up quickly.
- He is easily annoyed, becomes grumpy, or impatient.
- He has trouble controlling his temper.
- He drinks or uses other substances to relieve stress.
- He feels empty or "burned out."
- He feels that people continue to disappoint him.
- He feels emotionally numb and closed down.
- Your sexual relationship is less enjoyable.
- Your sexual desire for each other is decreasing.
- Even though you love each other, you don't feel "in love" in the way would like to be.
In working with people for many years, I know how difficult it is to reach out for help. We all would like to believe that our problems will improve by themselves. Sometimes, it's true, that time heals all wounds. However, sometimes we do need to reach out for support.
If you are a man who is concerned about Male Menopause, Irritable Male Syndrome, or Male-type depression, help is available. If you are a woman who is concerned about the man in your life, help is also available for you.
I encourage you to click here for information on how to get help.
If you'd like more information about the on-going research on these issues, please contact Dr. Jed Diamond at Jed@MenAlive.com or visit me at my website, http://www.MenAlive.com.
Jed is Director of the MenAlive, a health program that helps men live long and well. Since its inception, Jed has been on the Board of Advisors of the Men's Health Network. He is also a member of the International Society for the Study of the Aging Male and serves as a member of the International Scientific Board of the World Congress on Men's Health.
Diamond has been a licensed psychotherapist for over 40 years and is the author of seven books including the international best-selling Male Menopause that has thus far been translated into over 24 languages, including Chinese, Japanese, German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Polish, Slovak, Greek, Hebrew, Bulgarian, Korean, Portuguese, Indonesian, and Malaysian.
His latest book The Irritable Male Syndrome was published by Rodale Press in the fall of 2004, and in paperback September 2005.
Diamond has also written nine booklets, produced 10 audio cassette programs, and produced a video program for the Public Broadcasting System (PBS).
Diamond has taught classes at U.C. Berkeley, U.C.L.A., J.F.K. University, Esalen Institute, The Omega Institute, and other centers of education throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He has also been a consultant for business executives between the ages of 40 and 60 who want to use the mid-life passage to achieve life-long personal and professional success.
His PhD study on gender and depression developed vital new information for treating depression in men.
He lives with his wife, Carlin, on Shimmins Ridge, above Bloody Run Creek, in Northern California. They are proud parents of five grown children and eleven grandchildren.