Men are more at risk of mental illness post-breakup, study finds

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Men at greater risk of mental illness post-breakup, study finds
WATCH: Men at greater risk of mental illness post-breakup, study finds – Feb 13, 2022

When Roman Mironov’s marriage came to an end seven years ago, he was crushed.

“It was totally devastating because I actually expected that my marriage would last forever,” the now 39-year-old told Global News.

“I felt like that was the end of my life, for the first couple of weeks,” he said, noting he suffered mild depression. “I felt terrible and I just didn’t know what to do.”

Mironov’s feelings aren’t isolated.

Roman Mironov, relationship coach
Roman Mironov, relationship coach. Roman Mironov

Click to play video: 'Coping amid COVID-19: The mental health toll on Canadian men'
Coping amid COVID-19: The mental health toll on Canadian men

A recent study out of the University of British Columbia commissioned by the Movember charity, found that when men leave a relationship, they are at increased risk of mental illness, including anxiety, depression and even suicide.

John Oliffe, the paper’s lead author, noted marital separation quadruples the risk of male suicide.

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“If we think about suicide prevention and knowing that men (commit) suicide three to four times the rate of women, I think it’s such a given that the relationship breakdowns do put them at risk,” said Oliffe, a Canada Research Chair and UBC professor of nursing.

Researchers interviewed 47 men from Canada and Australia and asked them about their experiences with their breakups. 96 per cent shared detailed accounts of “anxiety, depression and suicidality” both during and after the failed partnership. They found that when faced with conflict, the men downplayed issues, causing the relationship to fracture even further.

“I think especially in breakups, there’s regret for what’s gone on … for what could have been better,” Oliffe said.

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Oliffe also said there is stress and anxiety over what someone’s future as a single person will look like.

The study also found those who were facing a mental struggle post-breakup, tended to use substances, including alcohol, to cope with their feelings.

And this situation has become even more so, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the isolation it created.

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Ottawa-based psychotherapist, Sean Hale, isn’t surprised by the findings.

“The guys that I’ve worked with a lot of times, they’re not socialized to talk about emotion,” Hale said.

He explained the pandemic left many struggling to maintain social connections. In turn, men have lost touch with friends and, when a breakup occurs, they don’t have anyone to turn to.

“When a relationship ends, … if you’re feeling these emotions and you can’t get them out, they can lead into those kind of feelings of depression because you’re kind of dealing with it on your own,” Hale said.

Oliffe said that the study found men did engage resources to address their mental health after a breakup, but said that giving men ways to communicate, cope and express their feelings with an intimate partner is needed.

Mironov, who said he is now in a thriving relationship, uses his post-breakup experience to help others as a relationship coach.

Mironov and partner. Roman Mironov

He said men should not have to bottle up their emotions.

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“I would say … reach out to someone. … It can be a friend, it could be a therapist. You have to believe in yourself,” Mironov said.

“You have to realize that just by taking small actions, by going out, by socializing, by getting into dating, you will pull yourself out of that state.”

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