Posted by: jedwardswright | May 23, 2011

Men Get Depression Too

There are people in this world who still view depression as a personal weakness or character flaw that can be overcome by stoic determination. Perhaps this is why depression is often thought of as a problem for “the weaker sex.” Although this is obviously a sexist interpretation of gender differences, the opinion persists that “real men” don’t get depression, but women are prone to mood swings.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NAMI) states that over 6 million men in America suffer from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), a medical condition which is commonly referred to as simply “depression. “[i] However, fewer men than women seek treatment for depression, and therefore predictably, three times more men than women successfully commit suicide[ii]. Because MDD is a potentially lethal disease, especially for males, it is vitally important that guys seek medical help early.

The stereotype of the rugged, independent, invincible man is too often fatal. The masculine aversion to vulnerability leads men to ignore the symptoms of MDD until their condition is advanced, and more difficult to treat. Changing the traditional belief that men shouldn’t admit to any emotional or mental health issues is essential. Lives can be saved if guys would own up to their mortality.

Depression in men is often revealed indirectly, because of their reluctance to deal with their feelings openly.  Common indicators or triggers of clinical depression in men include:

  • Marital problems, separation and/or divorce, or the death of a spouse
  • Substance abuse
  • Increased irritability or angry outbursts
  • Work-related problems and stress,  or job loss /unemployment
  • Workaholic tendencies and perfectionism
  • Emotional withdrawal
  • Money problems
  • Impotence or reduced (or occasionally increased) sex drive
  • Womanizing
  • Becoming a father, especially if the new mother is experiencing Postpartum Depression
  • Physical complaints such as headaches, digestive problems or exhaustion
  • Compulsive TV watching or gaming
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Overeating
  • Worrying excessively
  • Insomnia[iii]

Marital issues and unemployment are particularly associated with depression in men.

Because men are often in denial about their depression, spouses and family members may have to take the lead by insisting that they get help. Sometimes couple’s therapy can be a gateway to individual therapy. Physical complaints can provide an opportunity to suggest a physical check-up, and a spouse should not hesitate to communicate her concerns to his doctor, perhaps by a phone call in advance.

Resources

Healthy Place: America’s Mental Health Channel

                This link connects to an excellent article about depression in men. If you check out only one resource here, make it this one (and be sure to investigate the links included in this piece)!

National Institute of Mental Health (NAMI)

Mayo Clinic

athealth.com

WebMD


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