Man up and stop believing depression is weakness

Men are depressed in numbers equal to women. Men need to address depression immediately. Photo: AP/ depression

WASHINGTON, August 21, 2013 — The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined by the year 2020, depression will be the leading cause of disability around the globe. Both men and women suffer from depression, but men can often display depression in ways different than women that often go unrecognized.

The Mayo clinic tells us men feel symptoms of depression similar to women, which include feeling ‘blue’, extreme fatigue, difficulty sleeping and not enjoying activities that used to be enjoyable.

The most significant difference between men and women in terms of depression is how men display and react to depression and act on depressive thoughts.

Men may engage in what is known as escapist behavior by spending too much time at work, over engaging in sports, involving themselves in drug or alcohol use, become controlling, violent or abusive.

Other signs of male depression are manifested in persistent irritability and excessive anger and engage in multiple risky behaviors they did not engage in prior to the onset of a depressive disorder.

Men tend to exhibit behaviors resulting from depression physically by complaining of headaches, chronic pain, and digestive issues. The pain may be generalized or seem to travel from one area to the next.

One of the biggest problems with male depression is reluctance by men to seek help. For men, to admit to being depressed is a form of diminishing their machismo, feeling failure for losing control of whatever causes their depression, not responding to suggestions of seeking help and ignoring the obvious. For men, depression is weakness.

Current and projected future rates of depression are reported in greater numbers by women but it is believed men suffer from depression at rates similar to women. Not only do men not report but spend much of their efforts in downplaying symptoms of depression.

Getting men to discuss their health is difficult, so in turn, discussing depression borders impossible. In order to determine a man as depressed, it is best to watch for the special symptoms and behaviors men display. In the male mind, treatment for depression stigmatizes them and discussing depression with other males can lead to uncomfortable silence and friends suddenly avoiding them.

If left untreated or unaddressed, men have more defining and permanent means of dealing with depression. Men tend to act quicker to terminate prolonged depression with methods of self-inflicted risky behaviors and/or violence; oftentimes suicide by gun. This action frequently takes place without verbal warnings of suicidal thoughts.

Most of us have heard of John. Q. Public committing suicide and often we hear “I just saw him yesterday and he seemed fine!?” or “He must have found out he had a terminal illness”. When one speaks to the spouse of the deceased, often she will divulge changes in personality and behavior she did not recognize as suicidal depression or did recognize and could not convince her mate to get help.

In many cases, the reason John Q. Public seemed fine is he decided a permanent course of action and his problems are over. As a result, he may appear carefree.

If men feel depressed for over a couple or few weeks, it is likely to not go away on its own. Even if it is a super-secret, the best action to take is to seek treatment and follow the advice of a professional mental health care provider.

\A man’s brain can get sick much in the same way his liver or heart can get sick. There is no shame in seeking treatment. There is a great deal of damage to loved ones if treatment is not sought because damaging and hurtful behavior is displayed which compounds depression and at worst, the easily avoidable action of selfish suicide can affect or destroy the lives of those left behind.

When men break their leg, they get it set. If they develop a heart problem, they seek a cardiologist. In many cases if men have chronic depression, they sulk and refuse the possibility.

The story of ‘man’ is strength, power and prowess but depression is not a weakness guys. It is not a sub-standard ability to control emotions and feelings thought to be the domain of women. Chronic depression is an illness beyond anyone’s control without help. 

Much in the same way an injured leg need setting, an injured mind needs setting too and most of us men have had broken minds at greater numbers than broken bones.


Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based writer and a member of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science.


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