The state of our mental health is the prerequisite of our success yet we often put the care of our mental health on the back seat. When stress goes unmanaged that further develop into depression, we often dismiss it as simply stress or being fatigued when the reality is far more serious and more prevalent. A report by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) shows that 16.2 million adults and 3.1 million teens (ages 12-17) have had at least one major depressive episode. A statistics that warrants attention and solution as depression that goes untreated or managed can result in severe injury or death.
What the report does not notice is that while depression is an issue that gets a spotlight in the media, it is a topic that often gets swept under the rug among men. A tendency that can be attributed to the stigma that men with mental health condition are seen as weak and less of a man.
Why do We Need To Talk About It?
Conversations will break the stigma as the more men openly talk about mental health, the weaker the stigma become and that will enable all of us to save lives. We have lost good men to depression and suicide. Men like Robin Williams, Chester Bennington and Anthony Bourdain who could impact more lives if not for the grip of depression. Adhering to the stigma can only save reputation but silently it will kill.
Symptoms of Depression
The biggest challenge with treating depression among men comes from the inability and sometimes refusal to properly recognize their changes in behavior as symptoms of depression. Dr Funke Baffour, an associate fellow with The British Psychological Society, stated that “men tend to be less adept at recognizing symptoms of depression than women.” often denying the symptoms and disguise them as other behaviors.
The symptoms then flies under the radar, appearing only in sporadic moments. Thus, it is important to stay vigilant on the frequency of the symptoms in their day to day activities as they would often disguise themselves in other behavioral patterns.
- Dramatic mood fluctuations that persists where the change in mood last for weeks and sometimes months
- High irritability over simple things
- Tendency to prefer isolation where you find yourself choosing to be alone and avoid situations where you interact with other people
- Escapist behavior such as spending a lot more time at work or at your hobby
- Physical changes that includes disrupted sleeping pattern, loss of appetite, frequent feeling of fatigue
- Anger that is easily triggered and comes out of nowhere
Remember that with depression these symptoms do not subside easily, they persists. Thus pay very close attention to the changes in your behavioral patterns and to what your loved ones are sharing with you.
Depression tells you that you are unable to be at your best and be around other people. However, the lies it tells you are not permanent and the cycle of depression can be broken. There are actions that you can take to make sure the grip of depression will no longer control your life.
- Remove Yourself From Isolation
- Sign up for group activities such as volunteering or activities that you have to pay for. Not only this gets you to interact with others, paying for them will force you to actually show up so that you do not waste the money you spent
- Talk to a professional
- Being active and having friends who keep you accountable are necessity but talking to a professional can help you dig deeper into what triggers the depression
- Have Accountability Partner or partners
- Not a cheer team but friends who will roll up their sleeves, keep you accountable and call you out when you begin to act out
- Schedule your days for time to decompress
- Your appetite for success might make you forget that you need rest. So when things are becoming overwhelming, that is precisely the best time to make sure that your schedule carves out time for yourself to rest
- Learn to cultivate patience_
- Take it one day at a time and then one week at a time. Overcoming depression is not sprint, it’s a steady progress that you need to continuously work on. There is no quick fix to depression and it will take time but it’s well worth it
Remember that depression can be overcome and if you are or someone that you know are having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-8255 and they will lend an ear to hear the burden you are carrying.