HAVE you noticed that your significant other suddenly seems distracted or down in the dumps?
Perhaps they are no longer interested in sex.
If their behaviour has changed, it could be a sign that your partner is dealing with anxiety, depression or another mental health issue.
They may not even realise they are struggling, so it could be down to you – the partner – to swoop in and offer some help.
This Movember, we want to give you the tools you need to check your fella’s mental wellbeing.
Craig Martin, Movember’s Global Director for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, says: “If your partner seems a bit off, definitely express your concerns. Don’t wait until someone is at their worst to get them help.
“Sometimes, just letting them know you are there for them emotionally is enough.
“Suicide is incredibly prevalent among young men, but it’s preventable.
“Men are three time more likely to take their own life in comparison to women.
“Talking about suicide is not going to ‘give them an idea’, that’s a myth.
“Our number one recommendation to women who might be worried about their partners is just to ask the question: ‘Have you ever thought about hurting yourself?’
“Having that conversation is really important. People don’t want to die from suicide, they want help, but they do struggle to talk about it.”
To help you spot the warning signs in your other half, psychologist Emma Kenny reveals 10 things to watch out for.
1. THEIR SEX DRIVE IS NON-EXISTENT
A reduced libido could be a warning sign.
“Losing interest in sex is very common in people with poor mental health,” Emma explains.
“Especially if they have always had a high sex drive in the past. Depression can have adverse effects on any activity that requires energy and spontaneity and sex is usually one of the first to fall. Even if they continue to have sex, you may notice they seem withdrawn. Men may be unable to ‘perform’ and women are less likely to reach orgasm.”
2. A DECLINE IN SELF-CARE
“We often see self-care declining in men with mental health problems,” Emma explains.
“Not shaving or avoiding the hairdressers could be a symptom if this is something they have always done in the past. Taking care of personal hygiene may become difficult and they may find it hard to plan meals and eat as well as they usually do. Perhaps they can’t be bothered to shower in the morning. If they’ve always ironed their shirts but stop and seem unbothered by their appearance, this could be a symptom. Of course some men don’t iron anyway, you have to look at what is normal for them. If there is a decline in how they would normally look after themselves it might be cause for concern.”
2. THEY GET MAD EASILY
Everyone is entitled to the occasional bad mood, but it’s never a good sign if your partner starts blowing up in fits of range.
“Everything and everyone easily annoys them,” Emma says.
“This could mean road rage, arguments at work or falling out with you. If they are suddenly a lot more ratty than usual, or getting angry over small things, it could be a symptom of mental ill health.”
4. DRINKING MORE THAN USUAL
If someone is drinking regularly and heavily, they are more likely to develop anxiety and depression.
“Consuming large amounts of alcohol or using drugs should ring alarm bells,” Emma says.
“It’s normally reflective of a desire that they may want to escape. It’s possible they are using drink to try and improve their mood or mask depression, but this is a vicious cycle. Encourage your partner to exercise or use relaxation techniques to tackle stress, instead of alcohol.”
Consuming large amounts of alcohol or using drugs should ring alarm bells
“Does your partner seem restless or agitated?” Emma asks.
“You might notice they are pacing the room, constantly checking their phone or looking out the window. We sometimes notice repetitive obsessive compulsive behaviours too, such are repeatedly turning on and off lights or checking doors and windows are locked. They may seem overly worried with small things and this is a sign that they are feeling overwhelmed by their general day to day life.”
6. SLEEP PROBLEMS
Many people living with depression find it difficult to wake up in the morning, and difficult to get to sleep.
“They might have trouble getting to sleep and be suffering insomnia,” Emma says.
“Perhaps they spend the night tossing and turning, worrying about all-sorts whether it’s a relationship issue or how to pay the mortgage, whatever it is that is making them anxious.”
But then in the morning, they don’t want to get out of bed.
“They don’t want to get up, they feel exhausted and don’t want to face the world. There is a close relationship between sleep and mental health, and sleep deprivation can make mental health worse.”
MORE ON MENTAL HEALTH
7. A CONFESSION
“Men will often tell us that they’re not coping, but sadly, all too often it falls on deaf ears,” Emma says.
“They tell you how they are feeling but it may be brushed of. You might say ‘You’ll be fine, you’ll get over it’. If they voice concerns to you then listen to what they have to say.”
8. PHYSICAL ILLNESS
Just because the illness is psychological, this doesn’t mean it can’t manifest physically.
“If your partner is getting constantly unwell physically this could be a sign of mental illness,” Emma adds.
“Mental health problems may be placing a lot of stress on their body and this could result in physical illness. They might complain of regular headaches, bouts of flu, IBS. Stress and poor mental health can knock the immune system so notice if they start taking more time of work or complaining of ill health.”
IS YOUR PARTNER AT THE RISK OF SUICIDE?
Movember’s Craig says there are warning signs that a man might be planning to take his own life.
“These signs do not apply to every person but there are some common traits,” he says. “A shift in behaviour is the big one. It might be a loss of pleasure in the things they normally enjoy doing whether that is going to the football or hanging out with their mates. Becoming withdrawn and disconnecting from loved ones is also common. Mood swings especially anger is linked to suicidal thoughts as is risk-taking behaviour such as increased alcohol consumption or drug use.”
Some men may even write suidice notes, Craig explains.
“This is obviously a big warning sign,” he says. “Sometimes they might make plans for after their death so perhaps your husband is updating his will or starting to give away possessions. He might start saying goodbye to people. It doesn’t occur in every case but it’s relatively common. Those are significant warning signs when that does happen.”
For further information or to get involved with the 2018 Movember campaign, go to uk.movember.com.
9. THEY SEEM SPACED OUT
“Do they seem ‘out of it’ or forgetful?” Emma says.
“Is your partner suddenly missing deadlines and forgetting to pick the kids up on time? If he or she was previously punctual and they suddenly become messy and disorganised it could be a sign that they are struggling mentally. These outward signs could be a symptom of inner turmoil.”
10. CHANGES IN BEHAVIOUR
“It’s very common in those who are struggling with mental health to change the way they behaviour,” Emma says.
“Have they stopped going out with you or friends, stopped playing football or doing other activities they used to enjoy? The change in behaviour could be subtle or extreme. Sometimes you may feel they are being secretive. You notice these changes but they don’t want to talk about it with you. All you can do is to let them know you are there for them, or encourage them to speak to someone else.”