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Bliss Lavelle

Recovery Writer and Advocate

Last Update on May 6, 2024

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Depression is a severe mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide, but it often goes unrecognized in men due to cultural and societal norms. Identifying depression in men is important because they are less likely to seek help on their own and more likely to suffer in silence.1 Recognizing these signs is the first step toward getting help and beginning the journey to recovery.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression in Men

It can vary between individuals. However, some common signs of depression in men include a persistent low mood, a loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, chronic fatigue, significant changes in appetite or weight, sleep disturbances such as insomnia or excessive sleeping, and feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt. These symptoms of depression in men form the core diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder across genders. Recognizing depression in men and identifying depression in men early on is really important for timely intervention and support.

How to Identify Depression in Men

Recognizing depression in men can be challenging due to the unique ways in which symptoms manifest and the societal expectations placed on men to mask emotional difficulties. Friends, family, and healthcare professionals play a vital role in identifying the signs and symptoms of depression and providing support. By understanding the common indicators of depression in men, loved ones can encourage those struggling to seek the help they need.

  • Changes in Behavior: Significant changes in how a man engages with his world, such as withdrawing from social activities, experiencing changes in work performance, or showing reduced interest in hobbies and family life, may be indicators of depression.
  • Physical Symptoms: Often overlooked, symptoms like unexplained headaches, digestive issues, or chronic pain can be signs of depression in men.
  • Emotional Outbursts: Increased irritability, sudden anger, or aggressive behavior, especially if these are departures from usual behavior, can be signs and symptoms of depression in men.
  • Substance Use: An increase in alcohol consumption or the use of drugs can be a coping mechanism and a red flag for depression in men.
  • Sleep Patterns: Noticeable changes in sleep, either too much or too little, can be symptoms of depression in men.
  • Verbal Clues: Expressions of hopelessness, overwhelming guilt, or worthlessness, mainly if these thoughts are expressed repeatedly, can be signs of depression in men.

Healthcare providers not only look for these signs of depression in men but also use structured interviews and standardized screening tools to assess the severity of depression. They may ask direct questions about mood, lifestyle changes, and thoughts, looking for patterns consistent with major depressive disorder.

Knowing how to identify depression in men is truly important for timely intervention and support. By recognizing the signs and symptoms of depression and taking them seriously, friends and family can encourage men to seek the professional help they need. Early detection and treatment can lead to better outcomes and a faster recovery, emphasizing the importance of vigilance and empathy in addressing men and mental health. Understanding the unique ways in which depression manifests in men is a vital step in supporting those struggling with this common mental health condition.

Symptoms of Depression in Men

Depression in men often goes undiagnosed because their symptoms can be less recognizable and more frequently attributed to other causes. Understanding the nuances of how depression manifests in men is critical for effective identification and intervention. This section delves deeper into the emotional, physical, and behavioral signs and symptoms of depression that are specific to men. Here are the emotional, physical, and behavioral symptoms:

  • Emotional withdrawal: Men with depression might not openly express sadness; instead, they may appear indifferent or unresponsive, which can be one of the signs of depression in men.
  • Irritability: Increased irritability and frustration over seemingly minor issues can be a significant emotional symptom and one of the signs and symptoms of depression in men.
  • Anger and aggression: Some men may display unusually aggressive behaviors and short tempers as a result of depression, which can be a sign of depression in men.
  • Despondency: Feelings of hopelessness or being overwhelmed by their day-to-day responsibilities are common yet often overlooked as symptoms of depression in men.
  • Persistent fatigue: Despite adequate sleep, men might report feeling constantly drained or tired, which can be one of the physical signs and symptoms of depression.
  • Sleep issues: This includes trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or excessively sleeping far beyond the norm, which can be a sign of depression in men.
  • Appetite changes: Significant weight gain or loss without an apparent reason can be indicative of depression and a symptom of depression in men.
  • Chronic pain: Unexplained pains such as headaches, back pain, or muscular aches are frequently reported by depressed individuals and can be signs of depression in men.
  • Social withdrawal: A notable reduction in interest or participation in social activities or hobbies that one previously enjoyed can be one of the behavioral signs and symptoms of depression in men.
  • Lack of motivation: Depression can lead to decreased motivation to maintain personal or professional responsibilities, which can be a sign of depression in men.
  • Increased substance use: An uptick in alcohol consumption or drug use can be a coping mechanism for dealing with emotional pain and a symptom of depression in men.
  • Risky behaviors: Engaging in dangerous activities, such as reckless driving or unsafe sex, can increase in men dealing with depression and can be one of the signs and symptoms of depression.

Friends, family, and healthcare providers need to recognize these symptoms for what they are—a possible cry for help rather than a normal reaction to everyday stress. By understanding these specific manifestations of depression in men, we can better support those who might otherwise suffer in silence, ensuring they receive the compassionate care needed to manage and overcome their condition. Recognizing depression in men and identifying depression in men early on is essential for timely intervention and support.

Mental Health in Men

Mental health in men encompasses challenges often influenced by unique social and psychological factors. Depression is a common mental health condition that affects men, but the signs and symptoms of depression in men can be different from those seen in women. Understanding these factors can help improve support systems and treatments tailored to men’s needs.

  • Stigma and Stereotypes: Men often face significant stigma around mental health, which discourages them from discussing their struggles or seeking help. This can make recognizing depression in men more challenging.
  • Under-diagnosis: Men are less likely to be diagnosed with depression due to atypical symptom presentations or reluctance to discuss emotional difficulties. This can lead to a lack of identification of depression in men.
  • Cultural Expectations: Many cultures expect men to be stoic and emotionally resilient, which can prevent them from expressing vulnerability or seeking help. These expectations can mask the signs of depression in men.
  • Role Strain: The pressure to fulfill the traditional role of a provider can exacerbate stress and feelings of inadequacy, especially during financial or career challenges. This can be one of the contributing factors to depression in men and can impact men’s mental health.
  • Emotional Expression: Men are often conditioned to suppress emotions like sadness or fear, complicating the recognition and treatment of mental health issues. This can make identifying depression in men more difficult.
  • Risk-Taking Behavior: High levels of stress and poor mental health may lead men to engage in risky behaviors as a coping mechanism, further endangering their well-being. These behaviors can be signs and symptoms of depression in men.

These factors collectively contribute to the unique landscape of men’s mental health. Addressing these issues requires not only individual awareness and behavioral changes but also broader societal shifts in how we perceive masculinity and mental health. By understanding the signs and symptoms of depression in men, we can better support those struggling with this mental health condition and ensure they receive the care they need. Recognizing depression in men is an essential step in promoting men and mental health.

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Masculinity and Mental Health

The interplay between traditional masculine roles and mental health is profound and complex. These roles and societal expectations significantly shape how men perceive, experience, and respond to mental health challenges, including depression. These masculine norms can influence depression in men and the signs and symptoms of depression in men.
  • Traditional Masculine Roles: Societal norms often dictate that men should be strong, self-reliant, and in control of their emotions. This expectation can lead to men feeling inadequate if they experience mental health issues like depression, believing they must handle their problems alone. These norms can make identifying depression in men more challenging.
  • Stoicism: The valorization of stoicism among men—remaining unemotional or indifferent in the face of adversity can prevent men from acknowledging their mental health needs. This cultural ideal discourages emotional expression and vulnerability, often perceived as weaknesses. This can mask the signs of depression in men, making it harder to recognize depression in men.
  • Reluctance to Seek Help: Stemming from these ingrained beliefs, many men are reluctant to seek help for mental health issues like depression. They may fear judgment or believe that admitting to emotional difficulties undermines their masculinity. This reluctance can delay the identification of depression in men and hinder timely intervention.
  • Public Awareness and De-stigmatization: Efforts are needed to change public perceptions and diminish the stigma surrounding men’s mental health, particularly depression in men. Encouraging open discussions and promoting mental health education can help men feel more comfortable seeking support and acknowledging their struggles with depression. This can lead to better recognition of the signs and symptoms of depression in men.
The relationship between masculinity and mental health is pivotal to understanding the barriers men face in achieving mental well-being, especially when it comes to depression. Addressing these issues requires societal shifts in the perceptions of masculinity and enhanced efforts to support men in overcoming these cultural and psychological hurdles.1 By raising awareness about depression in men and the unique ways in which the signs and symptoms of depression manifest in men, we can promote better men and mental health outcomes.

Quick Tip

What types of support are most beneficial for men dealing with depression?

Men struggling with depression can benefit from a multi-faceted approach that includes professional help, such as therapy or medication, alongside support from family and friends. Encouraging open communication, practicing self-care, and making lifestyle changes like regular exercise and a balanced diet can also play an important role in managing symptoms.

Depression Prevalence in Men

Depression is a significant health issue among men, but the actual prevalence is often obscured by underreporting and misdiagnosis. Depression in men is a common mental health condition, but the signs and symptoms of depression in men can be different from those seen in women. Understanding the statistics and the factors influencing these numbers is essential for addressing mental health support for men effectively.

  • Statistics on Depression Rates: Various studies indicate that while women are diagnosed with depression more frequently, the prevalence in men is substantial. For instance, it is estimated that at least 6 million men in the United States suffer from depressive disorders each year. These statistics highlight the importance of recognizing depression in men and identifying depression in men.
  • Reported vs. Actual Prevalence: The reported rates of depression in men are likely lower than the actual prevalence. Cultural norms and expectations about masculinity often lead men to underreport their symptoms or to report them in ways that do not align with traditional diagnostic criteria. This can make identifying depression in men and recognizing the signs of depression in men more challenging.
  • Underreporting Issues: Many men do not recognize or acknowledge their symptoms of depression as a mental health problem. Instead, symptoms may be expressed through irritability, anger, substance abuse, or risky behaviors, which can be misinterpreted or overlooked by health professionals. These atypical signs and symptoms of depression in men can contribute to the underdiagnosis of depression in men.
  • Need for Gender-Sensitive Approaches: There is a growing recognition of the need for mental health assessments and treatments that are sensitive to how men express emotional distress. This approach could help bridge the gap between reported and actual rates of depression among men. By taking into account the unique signs and symptoms of depression in men, healthcare providers can better identify depression in men and provide appropriate support.

Acknowledging the disparity between reported and actual depression rates in men is essential for developing strategies that encourage more men to seek help and receive appropriate treatment. Efforts to destigmatize mental health issues among men and to adapt diagnostic tools to capture men’s experiences better are critical steps forward. By raising awareness about depression in men and the signs and symptoms of depression that men may exhibit, we can promote better men and mental health outcomes.

Men with depression may display symptoms such as irritability, anger, aggression, or risky behavior. They might also experience physical signs like chronic pain, headaches, or digestive problems. Additionally, men may cope with depression by withdrawing from social interactions or immersing themselves in work or hobbies.
Depression in men can arise from a combination of genetic predisposition, brain chemistry imbalances, and environmental factors. Stressful life events such as losing a loved one, experiencing trauma or abuse, facing financial hardship, or undergoing significant life transitions can all increase the risk of developing depression.
Depression can be triggered by a wide range of factors, and the specific triggers can vary from person to person. Common triggers include significant life changes like the end of a relationship, job loss, or retirement; chronic stress from work or family responsibilities; and traumatic experiences such as accidents, assaults, or the loss of a loved one.

Gender Differences in Depression

Depression affects both men and women, but there are notable differences in how it manifests, is diagnosed, and impacts each gender. Depression is a common mental health condition, but the signs and symptoms of depression can vary between men and women. Understanding these differences is extremely important for developing effective, gender-specific treatment and support strategies.

  • Symptoms Manifestation: Women are more likely to experience symptoms such as sadness, worthlessness, and excessive guilt. Men, on the other hand, may display depression through irritability, anger, and risk-taking behaviors, which can sometimes lead to misdiagnosis or underdiagnosis. These differences in the signs and symptoms of depression in men and women can make identifying depression in men more challenging.
  • Diagnosis: The diagnostic criteria for depression have historically been based on research predominantly conducted with female participants. This bias can lead to an under-recognition of depression in men, whose symptoms may not align perfectly with these criteria. This can contribute to the underdiagnosis of depression in men and make recognizing depression in men more difficult.
  • Societal Factors: Societal expectations significantly affect how men and women handle emotional distress. Men are often expected to be stoic and self-reliant, which can discourage them from seeking help or expressing emotional vulnerability. These expectations can mask the signs of depression in men and hinder efforts to identify depression in men. Women may face stereotypes about being more emotional, which can both stigmatize and increase recognition of their depressive symptoms.
  • Biological Factors: There are also biological differences that may influence the prevalence and experience of depression among genders. Hormonal fluctuations, particularly related to reproductive health events such as menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, are known to affect depression rates in women. While less is understood about the biological aspects influencing depression in men, researchers suggest that neurological differences could play a role in the development of depression in men.
  • Treatment and Outreach: Due to these differences, gender-specific approaches in treatment and outreach are necessary. For women, addressing hormonal factors might be effective, while for men, developing strategies that respect their preferred modes of expressing distress and seeking help can be more appropriate. By taking into account the unique signs and symptoms of depression in men, healthcare providers can better identify depression in men and provide proper support.

Recognizing and addressing these gender-specific differences in depression not only improves the accuracy of diagnoses but also enhances the effectiveness of treatments, ultimately leading to better mental health outcomes for both men and women. By raising awareness about the signs and symptoms of depression in men and women, we can promote better recognition and support for those struggling with this common mental health condition.
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Suicide Risk in Men

The suicide rates among men with depression highlight a significant public health issue, where understanding both the statistical trends and underlying factors is truly important for effective intervention and prevention. Depression is a common mental health condition, and the signs and symptoms of depression in men can be different from those seen in women, which can contribute to the increased suicide risk in men.

  • Statistics on Suicide Rates: Studies indicate that men are significantly more likely to commit suicide compared to women. For instance, in the United States, men make up about 75% of suicide deaths. This alarming statistic underscores the severity of mental health issues among men and the dire need for targeted suicide prevention strategies. It also highlights the importance of recognizing depression in men and identifying depression in men early on.2
  • Stigma Around Mental Health: Men often encounter stigma when dealing with mental health issues, viewed through a lens that equates seeking help with weakness, thus discouraging them from accessing necessary support. This stigma can make it harder to recognize the signs of depression in men and can hinder efforts to identify depression in men.
  • Communication Styles: Traditional masculine norms can inhibit men from expressing vulnerability and discussing emotional distress, delaying necessary mental health interventions. This can mask the signs and symptoms of depression in men and make it more challenging to recognize depression in men.
  • Societal Expectations: The pressure to adhere to traditional masculine roles, such as stoicism and self-reliance, can intensify feelings of isolation and hopelessness when men face mental health challenges like depression. These expectations can contribute to the underdiagnosis of depression in men and make it harder to identify depression in men.
  • Use of Lethal Means: Men are more likely to use more lethal methods in suicide attempts, leading to a higher rate of completed suicides. This highlights the importance of recognizing the signs and symptoms of depression in men and providing timely intervention.
  • Economic Factors: Economic pressures and the strong identification with the provider role can significantly impact men’s mental health, particularly during financial crises, potentially increasing depression and suicide risk. These factors can exacerbate the signs and symptoms of depression in men and contribute to the increased suicide risk.
  • Need for Tailored Approaches: There’s a pronounced need for suicide prevention and depression management strategies specifically designed for men. These strategies should focus on reducing stigma, promoting open discussions about mental health, adapting communication strategies to male-specific needs, and providing support during economic hardships. By taking into account the unique signs and symptoms of depression in men, healthcare providers can better identify depression in men and provide appropriate support.2

Addressing the unique aspects of male depression and suicide risk not only helps in crafting more effective prevention strategies but also ensures that interventions are sensitive to the nuances of gender-specific mental health challenges. By raising awareness about the signs and symptoms of depression in men and the increased suicide risk, we can promote better recognition and support for men struggling with this common mental health condition.

Key Takeaways

Men's Mental Health Stigma

The stigma surrounding men’s mental health is a significant barrier that affects not only the willingness to seek help but also the outcomes of treatments for conditions like depression. Depression is a common mental health condition, but the signs and symptoms of depression in men can be different from those seen in women, and stigma can make it harder to recognize and address these symptoms. Understanding both self-stigma and public stigma is essential for developing strategies that effectively support men in managing their mental health.

  • Challenges in Seeking Help: Many men find it difficult to seek help for mental health issues due to prevailing societal stigmas. These stigmas often portray seeking help as a sign of weakness or as unmasculine, which can deter men from accessing necessary mental health services. This can make it harder to identify depression in men and provide appropriate support.
  • Impact of Stigma on Treatment Outcomes: Stigma not only affects the likelihood of men seeking help but also impacts the effectiveness of treatment when they do. Men who internalize stigma may be less likely to adhere to treatment plans or to openly discuss their mental health struggles with providers, leading to suboptimal outcomes. This can hinder efforts to recognize depression in men and provide effective treatment.
  • Self-Stigma: Self-stigma occurs when men internalize societal attitudes and begin to self-label with these stigmas. This can lead to decreased self-esteem and a reluctance to acknowledge or address mental health needs. Self-stigma can make it harder for men to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression in themselves and can discourage them from seeking help.
  • Public Stigma: Public stigma involves the negative attitudes and beliefs held by society that suggest mental health issues are a sign of personal weakness or instability. This external pressure can discourage men from seeking help or acknowledging their struggles. Public stigma can contribute to the underdiagnosis of depression in men and make it harder to identify depression in men.
  • Importance of Addressing Stigma: Addressing both self-stigma and public stigma is essential in improving mental health outcomes in depressive men.2 Efforts must be made to change societal perceptions through education, open dialogue, and positive portrayals of mental health treatment. By reducing stigma, we can make it easier for men to recognize the signs of depression in themselves and others and encourage them to seek help.

By confronting and reducing these stigmas, we can create a more supportive environment that encourages men to seek help, adhere to treatment, and ultimately improve their mental health outcomes. This involves not only individual efforts but also broader societal changes. By raising awareness about the signs and symptoms of depression in men and the impact of stigma, we can promote better recognition and support for men struggling with this common mental health condition.

Depression Treatment Options

Treating depression in men requires a multifaceted approach that includes professional support, medical intervention, and lifestyle modifications. Depression is a common mental health condition, but the signs and symptoms of depression in men can be different from those seen in women, so it’s essential to understand which options are most effective for identifying depression in men and providing appropriate treatment. Here are the available treatment strategies such as therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and more:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that may contribute to the signs and symptoms of depression in men.
  • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT): Addresses relationship issues and their impact on depression, which can be particularly relevant for recognizing depression in men.
  • Group Therapy: Provides support from peers with shared experiences, reducing isolation and helping men recognize the signs of depression in themselves and others.
  • Antidepressants: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are often prescribed to treat the symptoms of depression in men.
  • Mood Stabilizers: Sometimes used for those with significant mood fluctuations, which can be a sign of depression in men.
  • Anti-Anxiety Medications: Helpful for men with co-occurring anxiety symptoms, which can be a common sign of depression in men.
  • Regular exercise: Improves mood and reduces depressive symptoms, making it an essential part of identifying depression in men and promoting recovery.
  • Diet: A balanced diet, rich in nutrients, can positively influence mental health and help manage the signs and symptoms of depression in men.
  • Sleep Hygiene: Prioritizing sleep helps regulate mood and energy levels, which can be disrupted by depression in men.
  • Family and Friends: Encouraging open communication and emotional support can help men recognize the signs of depression in themselves and others.
  • Support Groups: Connecting with others facing similar challenges can provide valuable support and help men identify depression in themselves and others.

Given the unique way that depression manifests in men, treatment effectiveness can vary significantly based on individual preferences and needs. A tailored combination of therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and social support can provide a comprehensive framework for managing depression effectively. Encouraging men to explore various options and work with healthcare professionals will help them find the best treatment strategy for their journey toward recovery. By raising awareness about the signs and symptoms of depression in men and the available treatment options, we can promote better recognition and support for men struggling with this common mental health condition.

Depression Screening Tools

Depression screening tools are extremely important for helping healthcare professionals identify depressive disorders in men. Depression is a common mental health condition, but the signs and symptoms of depression in men can be different from those seen in women, so it’s important to use screening tools that can effectively identify depression in men. Understanding the benefits and limitations of these tools ensures the most accurate and comprehensive diagnosis.

  • Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9): A self-administered, 9-question assessment focusing on the frequency of depressive symptoms over the past two weeks, which can help identify the signs and symptoms of depression in men. Simple to use, widely recognized, and effective in tracking symptom changes, making it a valuable tool for identifying depression in men. PHQ-9 relies on self-reporting, which can be affected by the stigma associated with expressing emotions, potentially hindering efforts to identify depression in men.
  • Beck Depression Inventory (BDI): A 21-question survey that measures the intensity of depressive symptoms, including mood, physical symptoms, and behavior, which can help identify the signs of depression in men. Provides a detailed assessment of symptom severity, which can help recognize depression in men. Though they may not capture atypical symptoms of depression more common in men, such as irritability or risk-taking behavior, they are potentially missing some signs and symptoms of depression in men.
  • Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS): A 14-item tool assessing both anxiety and depression symptoms, which can help identify depression in men and women. Helpful in detecting co-occurring anxiety disorders and for assessing mental health in general hospital settings, making it a valuable tool for recognizing depression in men. This tool may miss symptoms that don’t directly align with the items listed, potentially overlooking some signs and symptoms of depression in men.
  • Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS): A screening tool designed specifically for older adults, with a short form (15 items) and long-form (30 items), which can help identify depression in older men. Effectively detects depression among elderly populations, making it a valuable tool for recognizing depression in older men.GDS may not be suitable for younger men due to age-specific phrasing, limiting its utility for identifying depression in men across all age groups.
  • Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS): Originally designed to identify postnatal depression in women but adapted for use with fathers and other groups, making it a valuable tool for recognizing depression in new fathers. Helps identify depression related to the perinatal period in new fathers, which can be a specific sign of depression in men during this life stage. This tool is focused on a particular stage of life, limiting broader applicability for identifying depression in men outside of the perinatal period.

These tools help guide the diagnostic process and can inform subsequent care plans. However, they should be used in conjunction with clinical interviews and professional assessments to capture the full range of depression symptoms and minimize the risk of underdiagnosis in men. By using a combination of screening tools and clinical evaluations, healthcare professionals can more effectively recognize the signs and symptoms of depression in men and provide appropriate treatment for this common mental health condition.

How We Can Help

Recognizing and addressing depression in men is critical to ensuring better mental health outcomes. Depression is a common mental health condition, but the signs and symptoms of depression in men can be different from those seen in women, making it important to use tailored approaches for identifying depression in men. At Cornerstone Healing Center, we offer compassionate, personalized care designed to help men navigate their mental health challenges and work toward recovery. Our experienced team understands the unique pressures men face and how the signs and symptoms of depression in men can differ from those in women. We provide a safe, supportive environment to facilitate healing and growth, using a holistic approach that considers each individual’s needs.

Our goal is to help men identify depression and provide them with the tools and support they need to manage their symptoms and improve their overall well-being. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, reach out to us to explore how our holistic approach can offer meaningful support on the path to wellness. We are committed to helping men recognize the signs and symptoms of depression in themselves and others and providing them with the care and resources they need to overcome this common mental health condition. By working together, we can break down the stigmas surrounding men’s mental health and ensure that all men have access to the support they need to lead healthy, fulfilling lives.

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Author & Reviewers

bliss lavelle addiction, mental health, and recovery writer
RECOVERY WRITER & ADVOCATE

Bliss Lavelle, an aspiring writer, draws inspiration from her mother’s journey with addiction, mental health, and recovery to support and educate others, especially young adults, about the dangers of substance abuse, the importance of mental health awareness, and getting help through evidence-based treatment. 

CLINICAL DIRECTOR & REVIEWER

Lionel is the Clinical Director of Cornerstone’s Scottsdale treatment facilities. He has had over 4 years at Cornerstone. He is personally in recovery and passionate about helping others overcome substance abuse and mental health challenges; he is trained as an EMDR, adopting a trauma-informed approach to treat the underlying issues.

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