Introduction – Depression in Men: The Killer Disease
Clinical depression. Men don’t talk about it. Only ‘weak’ men get depression and the ‘weak’ don’t win. This is but one commonly held belief by men about a deadly disease called Depression. Men are just as susceptible to depression as women, yet women report depression almost twice as much as men. But what’s more disturbing about depression and men is that men are three times more likely to complete suicide than women. And the numbers are on the increase. Why are we losing men at such an alarming rate? Why don’t men seek help?
Let’s start with the name ‘Depression.’ The word ‘depressed’ doesn’t work for men. It signifies weakness, defeatism, shame and makes one less of a man if he is depressed. But when men lose their ability to function normally, be it at work, at home, in the bedroom, or at play, that’s exactly what they feel like – weak and a loser. The disease of clinical depression is much more than a case of the blues. It is a bona-fide disease of the brain and affects one’s ability to feel normal, to focus, to be motivated, to sleep, to eat, to have sex and to have a healthy self-esteem. The disease produces many symptoms and one does not have to have all symptoms in order to be successfully diagnosed with depression. Clinical depression lasts for several weeks, months and even years, perhaps even decades, whereas the blues normally lasts for only a few days. Not all episodes of depression are the same, even with the same person. One episode may be characterized by feeling way down emotionally with daily bouts of weeping, and another episode may be characterized by poor sleep, emotional numbness and/or an inability to complete a simple task or project.
Then there’s ‘Masked Depression.’ Something common among men. It’s called ‘masked’ because the symptoms differ from classical depression. Body aches, especially in the lower back, are more common. Irritability is high. The consumption of alcohol and/or drugs occurs with greater frequency and larger amounts. Gambling, pornography, sexual promiscuity, spending, working long hours, avoiding intimacy are all symptoms of masked depression. One of the telltale signs is the use of the phrases: ‘Leave me alone’ or ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ Reckless behavior and delinquency are also signs of masked depression as are unexplained outbursts or inappropriate outbursts of rage rather than normal expressions of anger. Making mistakes at work, accidents caused by carelessness, neglecting one’s hygiene, becoming self-absorbed in watching TV, surfing the internet, playing video games for hours on end are also red flags that depression treatment may be indicated.
Depression is caused by several factors, both physiological and environmental. Physiological causes include an imbalance of neurotransmitters that affect how we feel. These include:
- Serotonin – contributes to feelings of wellbeing and happiness.
- Dopamine – what we feel when we experience pleasure.
- Norepinephrine – necessary for managing stress and anxiety.
Environmental factors include problems such as:
- Loss of a loved one.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Behavioral factors may contribute to depression, such as:
- Alcohol and/or drug abuse.
- Breaking the law.
What about when someone becomes hugely successful in his career, and thus, ‘has it all,’ so to speak – power, money, toys – yet feels hollow inside? While failure is often a factor in depression, successful people suffer from it too.
The good news is that depression is treatable. Everyone’s brain is different, and therefore, one should not expect a ‘cure’ within a specific amount of time. Your medical team knows best about what you need for depression treatment and how long you need it.
- Pharmacological – these include antidepressants that support the proper balance of neurotransmitters within the brain.
- Nutritional – what you eat is often how you feel! Find a nutritionist who can provide a diet that supports recovery.
- Exercise –The brain requires the oxygen and blood flow that only exercise can provide. It should be a regular practice, every day, if possible, to help mitigate symptoms of depression.
- Mindfulness –Mindfulness works to help one stay present where we are okay. It’s when we dwell in the past or in the future that we experience fear and anxiety.
- Meditation –Meditation helps restore normal brain functioning, something the ancients have known for ages, but that science has just recently begun to validate through research. Seek out a meditation class, get a book, download an audio file, podcast or look up and on-line meditation practice and start meditating today! Even if it’s only for a few seconds – do it!
Men suffer from depression and often the symptoms are not classical depression symptoms. Although we live in a society where men need to appear ‘strong,’ there are times when men simply need to be seen as ‘human’ and subject to disease. For men, living with the stigma of depression is sometimes seen as a better choice than getting help. Unfortunately, this choice leads to suicide. If you are a man who suffers from depression, don’t wait – get depression treatment help now. Your life is worth living. Arrowhead Lodge provides treatment for men who suffer from addiction as well as depression and other co-occurring diseases. Call today at 1-888-654-2800 for help.