Gynecomastia or the enlargement of the male breast could not happen in the worst time than during adolescence.
In fact, the condition is not as damaging as in the ages 10-16 when boys are transitioning from boyhood to adolescence.
There are just so many things happening in their body at this time and acceptance to all of these changes takes time.
Adjusting to normal body changes is challenging enough for teens – the lower voice, the appearance of pubic hair, and many more. But an enlarged breast can somehow be too much and this article explains in detail how gynecomastia affects social life.
It is not how boy looks that actually matter at this time but how he thinks he looks.
The psychological trauma of being teased at school and his confusion about his changing body can prove to be too much for him.
What can be done? Before any form of help can be suggested, it is important to establish just how deep and severe the psychological repercussions of gynecomastia.
This is not just an afterthought to the condition but a proven concept which hospitals and academic institutions have studied in the past. Read on and dive deeper into the mental effects of gynecomastia.
In a study by Boston Children’s Hospital that involves control groups of 47 boys with gynecomastia and 92 boys without it in ages 12-21, they found out that the group who has the condition exhibit increased feelings of restlessness, loneliness, physical limitations, pain, tension, that also resulted to eating disorders.
The researchers in the study concluded that gynecomastia significantly and negatively impacts the boys in the aspect of their psychological well-being.
The findings said that boys who developed breasts will likely have issues with their social functioning, mental health, and self-esteem.
The same study also revealed that the severity of the boys’ gynecomastia did not carry any effect on their psychological outlook about their plight.
For boys who just have a small enlargement of their breast, the effects as far as they are concerned are as great as to those boys who have a more pronounced swelling in both of their breasts. This is a key finding that people need to understand and to take seriously.
Boys in their adolescent years or even grown men in their 20’s often become defensive unknowingly. This breeds anger and aggressiveness that they will likely not notice themselves.
However, these are not intentional but a tangible effect of the mental burden of having gynecomastia. These boys and young men often have short fuses and can even be seen as argumentative.
For boys ages 10-16 the effects of gynecomastia can be very subtle at first – withdrawal from school clubs, lost interest in their favorite sports, even dating becomes an alien concept to them as they begin to hide their “weird” body from the others in the fear of being ridiculed about it.
Fitting into the crowd can be very difficult when you have breasts like the girls. Sooner or later he finds out he is completely cut off from his social circle and isolation becomes a reality for him. This is where anxiety kicks in or even depression.
The psychological burden of gynecomastia is not just caused by the outside world but also within the very home where the boys or men live.
One of the most damaging situations of having enlarged breasts is to be teased by parents and siblings inside the house.
As the boy grapples with social isolation, his self-confidence is not helped, but in fact, even severed in the confines of his source of security – his home and family as they too start making fun of his breasts.
For some cases, the initial source of self-esteem issues originally came from the house and when the man boob tease is also made outside the house, the negative feeling about it is reinforced, causing a more serious mental predicament.
There is no doubt that the psychological effects of gynecomastia are long-lasting and will change a boy (who will become a man eventually) into a very different person. He may even retain his self-esteem issues even if he already outgrew the condition.
This proves that the mental and emotional scarring is often more severe than the actual, physical condition that brought it in the first place.
The question remains – how to improve the self-confidence of boys or men with the condition?
Perhaps the first thing that must be cleared out is who and where should the initial effort come from to help a boy struggling with gynecomastia?
The answer could never be more obvious – in the home together with the whole family.
Parents must be active in the forefront in the confidence building of their son struggling with gynecomastia. Teasing must not only be controlled inside the house but also explained to the struggling boy and to the whole family.
One of the worst things that families can do is to insulate the boy from ridicule. This can make him weak and would go against the reality of his situation. Sooner or later he will be teased. The parents and siblings will not be there on his side all the time defending him from others.
The family must instead choose to treat gynecomastia as a benign, removed concept from the boy like it does not even exist or matter. When attention to it is diffused, the big deal attributed to it is also reduced.
Parents must identify what he is most confident about himself. That part of his personality must be strengthened and built up. He must know his real worth and it is often here acceptance about his condition can start.
It may not be enough of course but it can be a good start. If he is good at music parents must support his pursuit. If he is good at the arts, or in a certain sport, he must receive additional training in that.
These things can add value to his confidence and can help him start to love the things he is good at. Sooner or later the passion for these things will hopefully become bigger than the hate he has for his gynecomastia.
Parents, family, and even close friends must take the feelings of boys or men struggling with gynecomastia seriously. It is very easy for others to deny the hurt felt by the boys. Some lines and phrases (“it is not a big deal”, “stop being such a sissy”, “man up”, “stand up for yourself”) do not help at all, in fact, make the negative feelings worse.
Empathy can go a long way. Listening to the boy for one is good. To be just there when he pours out his heart can give him the assurance that someone is listening, someone validates his emotions, and someone cared enough to understand what he is going through.
It is good that someone has a supportive family and friends are there ready to listen. But sometimes this too is not enough.
Men and boys who are suffering from anxiety or depression because of their man boobs need others who know exactly what they are feeling, others who do not only empathize in an emotional level but someone who really understands what they are going through because they have gynecomastia too.
Support groups for gynecomastia sufferers exist over the internet. Such a group can be very helpful to sufferers so it is best that people who have the condition seek out these support groups and families must support this move too.
Parents and doctors alike must have a sense of urgency to address the condition. It is not just a physical “deformity” for males. It is a psychological burden that has deeper mental implications than just a lump in the breast.
Although the medical field sees it as a non-fatal condition and that it would go away in a year or so, the personal and social life of a teen does not share the casual, indifferent stance towards gynecomastia.
It will just take a day of teasing to have gynecomastia ruin the self-confidence of a young boy forever. And here lies the problem. Parents and the whole family must feel the urgency to address the man boobs before it is too late.
There are effective treatments for this condition available for boys and men. One of the leading treatments is surgery.
The first surgical intervention worth mentioning is liposuction. This approach only removes the breast fat that is causing the swelling. This may be sufficient for some cases of gynecomastia.
Another surgical option, which is a less invasive procedure, is the mastectomy. In this approach, the breast gland tissue is removed entirely.
This may be more applicable to most cases of gynecomastia. The good thing about it is that it is less invasive as it is performed endoscopically.
Another kind of treatment is therapy where the gynecomastia is not only dealt with on the physical level but also on the psychological level. The scars of gynecomastia are not limited to the ones caused by liposuction or mastectomy.
There are also emotional, invisible scars from the condition. Dealing with this as well together with the removal of the lump in the breast will ensure more holistic healing for the sufferer.
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