Body image is not just a woman’s problem. It affects men also in an equal proportion. Gynecomastia is one such condition in males which is taking a toll on their mental health. While there is a large population suffering from mental health issues worldwide, gynecomastia is yet another factor that’s worsening mental stability in the case of males.
It is obvious that questions such as how to identify gynecomastia, or how to get rid of gynecomastia, exist.
What is gynecomastia?
It is a condition wherein boys and men face swelling of breasts. This makes the breasts appear larger than usual. It can be unilateral (one-sided) or be on both sides, that is, bilateral. It can be a result of:
- hormonal imbalance, the hormones involved being estrogen and testosterone,
- hypogonadism, kidney failure,
- consumption of numerous medications or drugs that influence the testosterone levels
- physical exercise or
- some unknown reason too.
Changes in hormones can lead to abnormally enlarged breasts in newborns, boys in their puberty and older men. This condition is non-cancerous (benign). It results due to increased estrogen levels and decreased testosterone activity. A large population of males today suffer from this medical condition.
So how is gynecomastia marring mental health?
People wonder, is gynecomastia bad? It does not come with physical pain or many issues. But large male breasts do bring psychological and emotional problems.
Gynecomastia and anxiety
Anxiety is the initial reaction in men who come across enlargement of glandular tissue. This is followed by feelings of uncertainty as to what could be done and how they would cope with this condition. They start worrying over the possible treatments and outcomes.
There is a large number of those suffering from gynecomastia who fear the possibility of developing breast cancer. Anxiety is a result of all such thought processes and they start imagining future problems based on the same.
Gynecomastia and low self-esteem
Low self-esteem is another feeling men start having once diagnosed with this condition. They feel incomplete because of the dissatisfaction they have with their body. They develop social phobia as they mentally imagine how people would react and accept them. This adds abnormality and stigma to the already grave condition.
They compare themselves with other men and end up feeling low due to abnormally enlarged breasts. Men with gynecomastia have been found to need psychotherapy to handle the situation.
People with this health condition have been found to develop severe trauma. They have even gone up to the level of experiencing suicidal thoughts in extreme cases.
Gynecomastia is initially a physical problem. But because of the effects it can have on mental health, psychotherapy should also be considered as a part of the overall treatment plan.
Other ways in which it can affect mental health in males:
- The condition affects the emotional health of a person.
- Boys during school or college may have to face bullying and harassment practices.
- They may withdraw themselves from sports and other normal activities.
- It can even lead to poor general health, low confidence and improper eating patterns.
- Boys/men may withdraw themselves from social functions.
- All of this can drive the person towards depression.
Boys in their adolescence with gynecomastia may need to cope with such issues during their most vulnerable time.
Talking of grown-up men, they also find it impossible to indulge in various activities, such as playing in the water near a beach or splashing in the swimming pool.
There have been a large number of studies conducted on gynecomastia and men suffering from it. It’s found in a vast majority of men/boys.
The good part is that treatments are available. They can help restore confidence by enhancing body image. Meanwhile, it is essential to also refer to a psychotherapist to prevent one from losing his mental wellbeing.
A lot of questions come into the mind when dealing with abnormally enlarged breasts, such as how to shape chest after gynecomastia surgery, and which doctor to consult for treatment. Below you can find some of them answered.
How long does gynecomastia last?
More than half the male infants are born with enlarged breasts. This goes away within 2 to 3 weeks. During puberty, it is due to hormonal changes, and the swollen breast tissue goes away within 6 months to 2 years without treatment. That in adults is generally without any symptoms.
Can gynecomastia go away with exercise?
There is no concrete scientific basis to show that you can get rid of this condition with exercise. Basically, exercise and diet have no effect on this condition. Exercising and dieting burn excess fat, while gynecomastia does not involve any excess fat.
Is gynecomastia surgery safe?
Surgery is a safe and reliable solution. It involves excision of glandular breast tissue, extra skin as well as fatty layer and gives you a well-contoured chest.
Do I have gynecomastia or just fat?
Chest fat is soft to touch, while patients with gynecomastia find it much firmer. They may also find it hard or rubbery; in fact, there may be a feeling of a solid lump under the skin, something which is not the case with chest fat. Moreover, chest fat looks saggy and may reduce with exercise and diet. This again is not with gynecomastia condition.
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