I’ve been a marriage and family counselor for fifty years now and one of the most difficult issues to deal with is anger. Both men and women get angry, but I’ve found that Irritable Male Syndrome can undermine even a healthy and loving relationship. The good news is that IMS can be understood and treated. My book The Irritable Male Syndrome has become an international best-seller. My follow-up book, Mr. Mean: Saving Your Relationship from the Irritable Male Syndrome is available as an ebook at half price this month only.
How I came to write The Irritable Male Syndrome is an interesting story. In doing research for my books, Male Menopause and Surviving Male Menopause, I found that one of the most prevalent, yet unrecognized, symptoms of mid-life hormonal changes in men was male irritability and anger. A researcher in Scotland, Dr. Gerald Lincoln, found that contrary to popular belief, low testosterone, was the cause of most male irritability. High levels of testosterone also produced anger and rage in men, but was rare, only common in male athletes who used anabolic steroids to increase muscle mass.
Lincoln coined the term “irritable male syndrome” and suggested that it was present in all male mammals when testosterone levels fell, but he had only done research on animals. I flew to Edinburgh, Scotland, and shared my studies with men. He agreed that a book with that title would be helpful and it was published in 2004. Here are the most important things you need to know to ensure that IMS doesn’t wreck your relationship.
1. IMS is very common.
Lincoln’s research demonstrated that IMS was common in all male mammals and mine showed that it was common in men whose testosterone falls below healthy levels.
2. Decreased testosterone is a normal part of aging in men.
All men lose testosterone as we age. However, for most men testosterone remains within healthy limits and does not cause problems. However, many men’s testosterone levels drop too far and the results are increased irritability, anger, and depression. More than 60,000 men and 30,000 women have taken my quiz to assess IMS.
3. Low testosterone is only one of five common causes of IMS.
In my research I found there were four other common causes of IMS that needed to be addressed, including the following:
- Changes in brain chemistry, often associated with a diet too high in protein and too low in healthy carbohydrates.
- Chronic stress causes men to become more irritable and angry, often without recognizing the underlying cause.
- Living in a world out of balance with climate change, economic dislocations, loss of biodiversity, and other hazards cause us all to feel more anxious and frightened. Check out chapter 21 in Mean for “The 8 Hidden Stressors That Are Causing IMS to Increase World-Wide.”
- Male roles are changing rapidly. We are asked to be more caring and sensitive, but also more assertive and successful at work.
4. Male irritability and anger are both contributing factors to male depression and also are common, but often unrecognized, symptoms of depression.
When men take out their irritability and anger on others, they feel bad about themselves and it often contributes to depression. Also, depressed men are often more irritable and angry, but we don’t often recognize these as symptoms of depression. So, too many men remain undiagnosed and untreated.
5. Irritable Male Syndrome, Male-Type Depression, and Male Menopause are related.
Over the last twenty-five years I have drawn people’s attention to these three important, yet unrecognized, issues in men. Although my books have been translated into multiple languages and more and more people are recognizing the importance of these issues, they remain a mystery to many. We need more research and more clinicians who understand and can treat men and their families.
6. There are simple things that everyone can do to address IMS and related issues.
- Have your testosterone levels checked. It’s a simple blood or saliva test that your doctor can do.
- Decrease the amount of alcohol you drink. Alcohol consumption can raise estrogen levels and throw off the testosterone/estrogen balance.
- Increase consumption of healthy carbohydrates like potatoes, rice, beans, squash, and other vegetables. This will keep your serotonin levels from falling, which will keep your mood from going dark.
- Lose weight. Fat cells convert testosterone to estrogen. Losing weight keeps testosterone levels up.
- Learn all you can about IMS.
Knowledge is power. The more you know the more you can protect yourself and those you love. IMS can lead to disillusionment and undermine your relationship. I have a great e-book, which is free for all. It’s called “Disillusionment: Not the Beginning of the End.” Just go to my website, www.MenAlive.com, and click the link at the right-hand side. You will also receive my free newsletter that will give you more information on IMS, male depression, the five stages of love, and much more.
Don’t forget to get your copy of Mr. Mean: Saving Your Relationship from the Irritable Male Syndrome at half price.