Depression is one of the most prevalent mental disorders in the US, and it affects a large number of people regardless of their sex, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or socioeconomic status. Although the reasons people become depressed vary, research shows that the illness can be triggered by genes, hormonal changes, and environmental factors. Unhealthy microbiome plays significant role in having Depression symptoms and if it goes untreated, it can lead to fully blown Depression.
While more women than men suffer from depression, and it used to be thought of as a “woman’s disease”, it still disrupts the lives of roughly six million men each year. Unfortunately, men who are clinically depressed do not tend to admit to having a problem and therefore do not often seek treatment.
Why Are Men Underdiagnosed?
Much of society sees depression as a sign of weakness, a highly emotional issue, or a problem that can be fixed with ease and by choice. More so than women, men are inclined to deny that they are suffering from depression because they are “supposed to be strong”.
Furthermore, men often have difficulty accepting that depression is a serious mental illness and that it extends beyond merely feeling sad.
Finally, the symptoms of depression usually present differently in men than they do in women. Feeling emotional, which is largely evident in women with depression, is not seen as much in depressed men. Not knowing that there are other associated signs results in men not knowing they have depression.
What are the Symptoms of Male Depression?
Unlike women, men who are depressed are not very likely to acknowledge feelings of hopelessness, despair, and self-loathing. Instead, the common complaints among depressed men are:
- Digestive problems
How do Men Deal with Depression?
The way in which men deal with depression differs from that of women. Men tend to seek distraction from their problems by using coping mechanisms. Some may be perceived as healthy, such as spending more time at work or on sports, whereas others such as drinking to excess, abusing drugs, and engaging in reckless behavior are decidedly unhealthy.
Such actions, coupled with the denial of having a mental illness as well as the subsequent decision to get treatment, can have dire consequences. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), men in the US are roughly four times more likely than women to complete suicide. Although women attempt suicide more often, men generally show fewer warning signs, act more quickly on suicidal thoughts, and use more lethal methods. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) finds that about 75 percent of suicides committed in the US are by men.
How Men with Depression Can Be Helped
To help men learn to identify and treat depression, it’s essential to understand not only why they suffer from it in the first place but also being mindful of the fact that society in general places high expectations on them to not discuss such problems—or even admit their issues to themselves. So what we can do?
To begin with, let’s create an atmosphere of understanding and ease in our homes and schools where boys feel equally comfortable in expressing themselves and their emotions; where they are not given a role of a man of the family at a young age; not told why are they getting emotional like girls; and most importantly where they understand that emotions are part of being human, and has nothing to do with any gender.
Also, to remind them that they can participate in few counseling sessions with their counselor to explore; brainstorm or learn coping skills regarding their situation and take steps to get better. This simple step can help them to continue to achieve their goals and be content in their lives with efficiency.
And of course you can go skim through my Self Care posts to get some ideas to begin with.
Is it doable? Absolutely!