Dragged Across Concrete: Trailer for film starring Mel Gibson
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Back in 2010, Gibson’s relationship with Russian songwriter and pianist Oksana Grigorieva broke down. Soon after Grigorieva accused Gibson of domestic violence, leading to an investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in July of the same year. The case was settled out of court in 2011, but during this time a letter allegedly written by the Hollywood legend more than a year before the incident emerged. It was reported at the time that Gibson wrote to Grigorieva as their relationship broke down. Within it he said that he was suffering from “some kind of male menopause” and that he was in talks to seek help for his problems.
According to TMZ.com, which obtained a copy of the letter, Gibson wrote: “I don’t know why I’m so whacky and depressed but I need to get well and re-enter life.
“Maybe it’s some kind of male menopause.
“This isn’t who I was meant to be – I know it. I’m so ragged I could drink or commit a crime.
“The anger seems to be out of my control – I need to do something about it, something lasting – not just a band aid.”
The leaked letter was not the only time Gibson has spoken out about the “male menopause”. In 2009, in an interview the Mad Max star said: “I’m not sure exactly what that is, but it used to mean a lot more.
“Maybe that sounds like I’m throwing it away and I’m not, I’ll still do the best damn job I can, but it doesn’t mean the same thing.
“I’m going to get the answer for myself one of these days. It’s the male menopause, that’s what it is.”
During the interview, the star admitted that his career has slowed down due to his experience with the condition, so he has had to find other passions to replace acting.
He continued to say: “You get used up or you feel like you’re not doing anything new, and that wasn’t exciting to me so I started to drop back.
“Some guy said to me a long time ago: ‘If you want to make yourself better go away and dig a ditch.’ A lot of that has been going on – ditch-digging, vegetable-growing.”
The NHS explains that the “male menopause” is used to describe the period when some men develop unprecedented symptoms including depression, loss of sex drive and erectile dysfunction.
The symptoms begin when men reach their 40s and early 50s and are most likely down to a natural decline in testosterone.
Men can experience a wide range of both physical and emotional symptoms including:
- Mood swings and irritability
- Loss of muscle mass and reduced ability to exercise
- Fat redistribution, such as developing a large belly or “man boobs” (gynaecomastia)
- A general lack of enthusiasm or energy
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia) or increased tiredness
- Poor concentration and short-term memory.
In some cases, these symptoms can interfere with everyday life and an individual’s happiness. Therefore it is important to find the underlying cause and find ways in which these symptoms can be resolved.
Although the term “male menopause” is widely used within the media, the NHS warns that the term can be misleading. The health body states: “This label is misleading because it suggests the symptoms are the result of a sudden drop in testosterone in middle age, similar to what occurs in the female menopause. This is not true.
“Although testosterone levels fall as men age, the decline is steady at less than two percent a year from around the age of 30 to 40, and this is unlikely to cause any problems in itself.
“A testosterone deficiency that develops later in life, also known as late-onset hypogonadism, can sometimes be responsible for these symptoms, but in many cases the symptoms are nothing to do with hormones.”
Alternative causes of “male menopause” symptoms could be down to lifestyle factors or psychological problems including:
- A lack of sleep
- A poor diet
- Lack of exercise
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Low self-esteem.
In other cases, where lifestyle factors do not seem to be a problem, the NHS states that late-onset hypogonadism could be the cause. Hypogonadism is where the testes produce few or no hormones, which can sometimes develop in later life.
Individuals who are obese or have type 2 diabetes are also at higher risk of hypogonadism, but this is an uncommon and specific medical condition that not part of the normal ageing process. A diagnosis of late-onset hypogonadism can usually be made based on your symptoms and the results of blood tests used to measure your testosterone levels.
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