Top 6 Men's Health Questions
3. What can stress do to my body?
Stress is harmful, no question. It can wreak havoc on your sex drive, increase your blood pressure, and overwork your heart. That's dangerous. In a 2011 study, middle-aged and older men who reported years of moderate to high levels of stress were more than 40% more likely to die than men with low stress.
Unfortunately, as every man knows, there's a lot to stress over. "Men come in worried about being fired or laid off, or if they are in a managerial position, they have stress about having to lay off friends and co-workers," Seballos says. Long hours and work-related travel can translate into tension at home, he says. And that often leads to unhealthy behaviors, like eating too much or drinking more than usual. Over time, you increase your risk of weight gain, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
What does Seballos recommend? Working out. "Guys who handle stress the best are those who exercise the most," Seballos says. "The best Prozac out there is exercise." White tells many of his patients to try yoga or meditation in addition to exercise.
4. Do men like me get depressed?
Absolutely. At least 6 million men in the United States suffer from depression each year, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. However, many guys don't like to talk about their feelings or ask for help.
"It's rare for a guy to say, 'Doc, I'm depressed,'" says Seballos. "But I bring it up. I ask them about their mood, whether they're losing sleep or having trouble concentrating, or if they have lost interest in going out with friends."
White calls it "drilling down" -- getting at the issues a lot of men are reluctant to discuss. Identifying those problems is a crucial part of any man's checkup. Depression is more than simply feeling sad, unmotivated, and without energy. Depression is a real illness, and it can be life-threatening. That's especially true for men because it increases the risk of serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Depression is also the leading cause of suicide -- and men are four times more likely than women to take their own lives. "I discuss how common it is so they see they are not isolated," says White, who screens men for depression during their annual checkups. "Too often, it takes until they reach the end of their rope before they come to see you about it." Medication, exercise, and therapy are all treatment options, White adds.
5. What about sleep -- why is it important for me?
It's hard to overestimate sleep's importance. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease are all linked to not enough sleep. So are excess weight and mood disorders. A recent study showed that young men who skimp on shut-eye have lower levels of testosterone than men who are well-rested. Meanwhile, older men risk high blood pressure if they don't get enough deep sleep.