Male depression is hard to recognize because the male stereotype is to be strong and silent, however, these could be signs of depression.
Emotions are part of being human and men are no different. Of course, the male stereotype is to be strong and silent, however, there are physical and mental signs that something is not quite in balance – these are signs that something needs to change.
In the course of any given year, an average of 3% of men experience a major depressive episode and 1 in 10 men will experience major depression at some point in their lives. This article describes how men must recognize and come to terms with their depression and helps them to cope and where to get support.
What is balance…and the signs of male depression
Balance’ is elusive and it is often recommended to follow the concept of doing your best with the knowledge you have and the supports that are accessible. Men may feel they are ‘broken’ or ‘overwhelmed’ – if you had a broken bone, however, you would seek help to get it set straight and checked regularly. The mind can seem broken as well, which may include a variety of negative thoughts and beliefs and the related emotions of anxiousness about the future and a feeling of feeling down and depressed. Your mood and mental thoughts can shift and improve, not with a physical cast, but a cast of the right supportive factors.
General signs of depression
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
- Loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed, like former hobbies and social events
- Appetite or weight changes
- Sleep irregularities – either sleeping too much or too little
- Concentration problems or too many negative thoughts
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Anxiety – research has shown a strong link between anxiety and depression.
Depressive signs more common in men
- Physical issues– backache, headaches, sexual dysfunction, digestive problems
- Anger and agitation– being sensitive to criticism, losing your sense of humor and having a short temper, being physically aggressive/violent, abusive or controlling
- Reckless behavior– participating in risky activities such as drugs, excessive alcohol, gambling or participating in unprotected sex
- Suicidal thoughts – older men are at the highest risk and most doctors dismiss symptoms – depression is not normal when we age.
Taking an omega-3 based supplement such as fish oil or flax-seed oil can also improve neurological functions including mood balance.
A fundamental point to realize is to be patient with yourself -this is not a quick-fix. If it is an urgent, call 9-1-1 or go to your local hospital Emergency room or call a local crisis support hot-line. Otherwise, try and keep a positive attitude and give yourself some time – self-care and attention will gradually improve your state of mind.
Next, you need someone to open up with – it’s important not to be alone since your mind may be full of negative thoughts and negative self-perceptions. Make a list of people you can open up with and make contact – it could be a good friend, a close family member,your clergy or priest, your primary health care provider.
Many work places offer confidential counseling services – by phone or in person. If you prefer to be anonymous, contact Crisis Text Line, a non-profit organization providing free crisis intervention by SMS messaging.
Your local state or province or territory offers local crisis lines that you can access online or by phone – Support in the United States is accessible from MentalHealth.gov.
Other important things you can do now
A proactive step that will help your mental health is to shift your lifestyle and diet to one that is healthier. A regular exercise routine will boost your mood, improve your sleep and provide a physically satisfying way to shift your body and mental state. Try to go outdoors daily such as to a local trail in a park or just a walk around the block. Fresh air and observing nature can get you out of your own head and give you perspective that is greater than yourself. Eat small, regular, balanced satisfying meals, including protein with each meal (eg: meat, poultry, or legumes) with some vegetables. Avoid sugar and alcohol!