Depression in Men is a medical illness that knows no boundaries.and is indiscriminate in every way.
- Depression does not consider complexion: white, black or the colours in-between
- Sex: male, female or sexual orientation
- Race, age, financial status and lifestyle make do difference to depression.
Men are perceived as strong and silent, always in control, never showing their emotions.
What happens when hopelessness or the overwhelming fear of failure and despair take over?
What happens to men when they hit the brick wall, where do they go, what do they do?
In the majority of cases, men tend to simply go into denial or just cover it up; depression in men is a common problem and can affect any man at any time.
If not treated depression can take a heavy toll on your health, work and relationships. You are not alone, it’s not a sign of weakness if you ask for help.
Male Depression And Anxiety.
For any man openly discussing mental illness can be a tough battle as well as embarrassing.
For men this is an even greater challenge, the traditional masculinity badge that men wear may make it particularly challenging an can increase the risk factors for depression.
One of the major risks with depression and anxiety is that you feel exposed and you feel out of control of your thoughts and emotions, you almost become helpless and vulnerable.
As [men], we are constantly in the shadow of male masculinity, we forever being told we have to be strong and in control, not to show any of our emotions even when things get on top of us.
On some days for a lot of men just the simple act of getting out of bed and getting dressed and getting to work, takes all of their energy and focus, even before they start their working day.
During the day every decision takes all the focus and energy they have. It can add to the downward spiral and increase the risk factors for depression.
There’s always been a stigma when it comes to men and mental health. Recent research suggests many men find it difficult to disclose mental illness symptoms and recent findings found that many men are more likely not to seek help.
“Being a man” is being seen as tough, it’s hard for men to come forward and reveal they have a mental health condition.
Male Depression And Anxiety Symptoms.
Men and depression is a treatable health condition, it is not something to be embarrassed about and it defiantly not a sign of emotional weakness and it’s not something men should view as an attack on their masculinity.
It affects millions of men of all ages and backgrounds, as well as having an effect on family, partners and close friends. We all feel that some days are better than others and we have days when we are not on top our game, we feel a bit low, but that’s normal, dips in our mood are an ordinary reaction to everyday situations, not everything is perfect every day.
However, male depression changes how you think, feel, and function in your daily life. It can interfere with your productivity at work or school and impact your relationships, sleep, diet, and overall enjoyment of life. Severe depression can be intense and unrelenting.
In a lot of cases, the risk factors for depression within men often get overlooked and missed, as many men find it really difficult to talk about their feelings. Men tend to focus on the physical symptoms that often accompany male depression. Warning signs include:
- Anger, irritability or aggressiveness
- Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge
- Increased worry or feeling stressed
- A need for alcohol or drugs
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Suicidal thoughts
- Low esteem, self-confidence or having trouble feeling positive emotions
- Engaging in high-risk activities
- Ongoing headaches, digestive issues, or pain
- Obsessive thinking or compulsive behaviour
- Thoughts or behaviours that interfere with work, family, or social life
Causes Of Depression In Men.
Several factors may contribute towards the risk factors for depression in men.
Men who have a family history of depression may be more likely to develop it than those whose family members do not have the illness.
Brain chemistry and hormones.
The brains of people with depression look different on scans than those of people without the illness. Also, the hormones that control emotions and mood can affect brain chemistry.
This could be work related or it could be a difficult relationship you are in. Divorce is another major risk as well as bereavement. Or any stressful situation that may trigger depression.
People with low self-esteem, who consistently view themselves and the world with pessimism, or who are readily overwhelmed by stress, may be prone to depression.
Other psychological factors, such as perfectionism and sensitivity to loss and rejection, may increase a person’s risk for depression. Depression is also more common in people with chronic anxiety.
Low Socioeconomic Status
Being unemployed or on a low income, financial problems. Also being in a stressful environment as well as being in social isolation, and greater daily stress.
As we get older we are at a particularly high risk for depression
Insomnia, Sleep Disorders
Chronic sleep problems are strongly associated with depression and should be treated to avoid complications.
Different types of medications have been implicated in depression, including:
- Pain relievers
- Sleeping pills
- Cortisone drugs
- Seizure drugs
- Certain medications for heart problems, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and asthma
In most cases, the risk factors for depression is likely to be a combination of these factors.
Recent research came up with six key themes or traits that highlights the reasons or issues for depression:
- Personality traits – some traits can interact with factors such as deprivation, unemployment, social disconnection and triggering events, such as relationship breakdown or job loss, to increase the risk of suicide.
- Masculinity – more than women, men respond to stress by taking risks, like misusing alcohol and drugs.
- Relationship breakdowns – marriage breakdown is more likely to lead men, rather than women, to suicide.
- Challenges of mid-life – people currently in mid-life are experiencing more mental health problems and unhappiness compared to younger and older people.
- Emotional illiteracy – men are much less likely than women to have a positive view of counselling or therapy, and when they do use these services, it is at the point of crisis.
- Sociology-economic factors – unemployed people are 2-3 times more likely to die by suicide than those in work and suicide increases during the economic recession.
There has been so much research on mental health issues from around the world all coming up with different findings on why depression affects men in different ways and for different periods of time. From a personal point of view, depression has been part of my life for 30 years, some days are better than others. But one thing I have found is that depression can be treated, but I have learnt that it never fully goes away, its something I live with, but now I have a degree of control over my thoughts, emotions and feelings.
Risk Factors In The Workplace
It’s been well documented that depression, anxiety and work-related stress can be connected. It is important to make the difference between depression and anxiety is a medical condition, while stress is not.
However, being exposed to prolonged or excessive job stress is a risk factor for men’s mental health problems, and accounts for 13 percent of depression in working men.
Workplace factors can also contribute to poor mental health among men. Employment can promote well-being by providing regular activity, time structure, social contact, a sense of collective effort, and social identity. However, the workplace can also be a source of psychological stress that can negatively affect employee mental health.
Factors that contribute to job stress include:
- High demands
- Low job control
- Work overload or pressure
- Lack of control and participation in decision-making
- Unclear work role
- Job insecurity
- Long working hours
- Poor communication
- Inadequate resources.
How To Help A Man With Depression
Depression is a very complex illness, there is no magic built for male depression, and their no easy answer or solution. Nobody really understands the medical or social reasons why certain men are susceptible to depression. But that does not say that men can overcome depression, with the right help and support. There are ways that you can help someone with anxiety or depression
- You can start by letting them know if you’ve noticed any change in their behaviour, you can spend some time with them, talk to them about life, experiences, show an interest in them, share any common interests, a nice thought to remember “ God gave us two ears and one mouth” Become a good listener and don’t prejudge.
- Suggest that you spend time helping to do some research about depression, find out the facts about men and depression, and come up with an action plan to help. Suggest they go to a doctor or health professional, and help them to make an appointment and offer to go with them to their appointment and follow them up afterwards. A lot of research has gone into mindfulness and how it can help with depression
- Offer them some simple ideas that could help them, for example, encourage them to get enough sleep, the recommended hours for an average person is 8 hours. If you are a member of a gym ask them to come along, if that’s not possible, suggest a walk after work or after your meal. Exercise is a great way of refocusing your thoughts. Try and encourage him to look at his diet, show and explain the benefits of having a good and well-balanced diet.
- Besides the stigma of mental health, isolation or aloneness is a major factor in depression. A good way to help him is to encourage family and friends to invite them out and keep in touch, but don’t put them under any pressure to participate in activities.
- Give him encouragement discourage him from using alcohol or other drugs to try to feel better and don’t put pressure on him by telling him to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘get their act together’. Don’t just assume that his depression will go away, it needs time and understanding.
Mental illness is not about stigma’s even though a new report, published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, investigates stigma as a significant barrier to care for many individuals with mental illness, it’s not about masculinity either, it’s about education. It’s about encouraging men that the subject of mental health is not a “taboo” subject.
Despite the availability of effective evidence-based treatment, about 40% of individuals with serious mental illness do not receive care and many who begin an intervention fail to complete it.
The report also mentions that “While stigma is one of many factors that may influence care seeking, it is one that has profound effects for those who suffer from mental illness”
Healthyplace.com have written an article Depression in Men: Understanding Male Depression, which goes into great detail the effects of depression on men. The reference to self-help underlines the importance of balance, your depression is a complex illness and no one treatment will help you. It’s a combination of different approaches, some based on medication others are more related to you, your lifestyle, diet, exercise, meditation, enjoyment and education.