Suicide and Male Menopause

“All men are born distraught, and will not for the world be satisfied.” Anon

There is a sad statistic that eighty percent of all suicides are men. Among men in middle age, three percent of those are more likely to turn to suicide and in men over sixty the number climbs to seven percent. The rate of suicide is much higher for men than women throughout life. Women may attempt more suicides, but are less likely to die from the attempt.

Many symptoms of midlife crises are overwhelmingly those of depression. As the recognition of male menopause (midlife crisis or andropause) is a fairly new study, health care workers, including mental health care, are trying to get up to speed on the care of andropausal men. One of the biggest problems facing them is that the diagnostic criteria for depression are almost exclusively female.

Real Men Don’t Do Therapy

This is because more women, by far, seek relief from depressive symptoms. Women are much more likely to reach out for help while men, taught or influenced to be strong and stoic, are reluctant to do so.

Like many medical conditions the symptoms of Male Menopause can vary and usually worsen with age if left untreated. There are symptoms that are physical, some are emotional and others are mental. Symptoms can mimic other medical conditions.

The symptoms and their severity will usually dictate whether or not the male will seek medical attention. The symptoms that cause the most distress are the ones that are sexual in nature because a man’s inability to perform the sexual activity can have a devastating effect on his relationship with a spouse or other significant relationship.

Low Testosterone Symptoms

Low testosterone can lead to weight gain and loss of muscle tone and endurance. These physical symptoms can lead to the emotional symptoms like depression, irritability and anger.

One disadvantage that male menopause has that female menopause does not is that there is no one obvious clue that menopause is happening.

What’s in a word? The word “menopause” is something we normally relate to a female’s passage through the reproductive years and into the “better years”, years free of the monthly torment associated with the menstrual cycle.

Women experience “the change” between age 45 and 55. The aging process brings about changes not only in women but also in men.

The obvious physical sign of lack of menses is an obvious give-away that the female is approaching menopause. Males on the other hand undergo a more gradual shift in the aging process.

Males experience the reproductive change involving the connection between the testicles, the hormone testosterone, the brain, and the pituitary.

Gradual Changes

Although most people know that Menopause has generated a large population of women who have excessive rates of bone fracture and CHD, men also suffer from these conditions. The male menopause or Andropause is due to hypogonadism- low testosterone levels.

Andropause, the word, appeared in the literature in 1952 and is defined at the “natural cessation of the sexual function in older men.” Andropause also refers to sexual regression in men over 40 due to dropping male hormone levels.

Endocrinologically, the difference between the hypogonadal man and the post-menopausal hypogonadal woman is not very great. Neither has adequate levels of androgens or estrogens and they both can be expected to show similar tendencies; i.e., hypogonadal men also tend to have frequent MI’s and bone fractures from osteoporosis. There is current evidence of a protective effect of testosterone against both heart attacks and bone fractures.