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    Men’s health issues often extend beyond the physical

    Gwendolyn Hooper, PhD, APRNGwendolyn Hooper, PhD, APRN

    Gwendolyn Hooper, PhD, APRN, is president of the Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates and assistant professor at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.

     

    Depression has long been a problem primarily associated with women, leading to less awareness of it as a concern in men, a point highlighted in a Urology Times article addressing postpartum depression in new fathers.

    As clinicians who focus on men’s health, urology providers have an opportunity to assist men with emotional and stressful situations. Most men would not consider an association of their urologic symptoms with a psychological cause. In addition, raising the issue of mental health can result in men receiving the dismissive message of “it’s all in your head,” something no concerned provider wants to convey or suffering patient wants to receive.

    It is important to men that men maintain their masculine image. Attaching a mental condition, which many consider a social stigma, could only add to the difficulties men have in seeking care. Psychologists and other mental health professionals have long sought answers to the questions of why men do not seek help for their physical complaints. Emotions have been found to be a central aspect of this issue.

    Related: How postpartum depression can affect new fathers

    A quick review of the literature reveals that 60% of men with prostate cancer experience psychological distress in some form (Eur Urol 2010; 57:396-7) with 10% to 40% meeting criteria for clinically significant depression (Urology 2004; 63:751-6). Ravi and colleagues (Urol Oncol 2014; 32:1333-40) found 20% of men age 65 or older with a prostate cancer diagnosis had depression, anxiety disorders, or committed suicide. Men with lower urinary tract and sexual symptoms (Eur Urol 2007; 52:407-15), urinary diversion (Urol Ann 2013; 5:190-6), chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (Int Neurourol J 2013; 17:48-58), and incontinence (BMJ Case Rep 2010; doi: 10.1136/bcr.07.2009.2118) are only a few urologic problems facing our patients that may have a psychological component.

    Incorporating mental health education and awareness into our patient management can improve the emotional and physical health of our patients. Urology providers and caregivers can serve as the primary venue for positively impacting both the psychological and physical components of men’s health as men trust us with their most intimate and personal issues of life.

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