Men don’t ask for help. Men go it alone! Men rely on their wits, skills and internal strength to make it through life, and any man who dares ask for help just isn’t a man. Right?
Wrong. Self-reliance is one thing, but for the most part, constantly going it alone is a mistake. Every man, from the haggard frontiersman to Joe in Accounting, needs help sooner or later, especially when his health’s at stake. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found men aged between 18 and 44 were 70 percent less likely to seek medical treatment than women.
That same bullheadedness extends to mental health, unfortunately. Take depression: It’s a genuine disease with physical and mental symptoms, and it’s also one which responds to treatment. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports nearly 80 percent of the people who seek treatment for depression show improvements in their symptoms inside of two months. Too bad a lot of men never experience improvement – a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found fewer than half of the men in the U.S. with depression get treatment.
Seven things to be aware of
Here’s a sobering fact from NIMH: While depressed women are more likely to attempt suicide when depressed, men are more likely to be successful when attempting suicide. Maybe it’s the reluctance to talk about one’s feelings or the wrong idea depression isn’t a disease, but depression in men is a genuine problem, and one which can be treated. Here are seven things for a depressed man to look for in himself – or to look for in a friend or loved one:
- A lack of interest in things formerly enjoyed – or a new interest in thrill-seeking: Depression robs enjoyment of everyday life. A man may abandon activities he no longer has the energy for – or sees the point of. Conversely, some men will turn to other behaviors for excitement while depressed, like driving dangerously, drinking to excess, cheating in a relationship or using drugs.
- Self-medication: Drinking habits can change suddenly with depression. A guy who only drank on the weekends may start drinking on work nights as a way to cope with depression. Also, self-medication becomes genuinely dangerous when medicines – prescription or otherwise – are abused as a way to cope with depression. Medicines purchased from a pharmacist or a drug store can be every bit as addictive as illicit drugs, and have the same devastating consequences.
- Feelings of fatigue, or being tired all the time: Depression is a disorder with physical and emotional symptoms, one of which is fatigue. Men who are depressed may have slower movements, speech and thoughts than they usually do.
- Certain choices of language: Everybody talks like a fatalist from time to time, either out of frustration over a bad day at work or disappointment in general. However, if this sort of language is out of character for the man in question, it may be a signs of depression. Indeed, some men may intentionally talk this way as a way of signaling for help.
- Projecting a happy face: A depressed man will spend a lot of time convincing others (and himself) that he’s fine. Sometimes, self-depreciating or sarcastic humor about one’s own problems or the problems of others can be a front for insecurity about mental health.
- Sleep difficulties: According to NIMH, sleep difficulties are more common in depressed men than women. It’s one of several ways men experience depression differently.
- Thoughts or attempts of suicide: A new study from the University of Colorado found older white men had significantly higher rates of suicide than any other demographic group. Additional studies have shown a rising rate of suicide among middle-aged men as well.
Avoiding treatment isn’t brave or a sign of strength – it’s foolish. Talking about one’s problems with a trained professional can be the first step to getting one’s life back.
Sovereign Health of California is a leading provider of mental health and substance abuse treatment. We treat depression – along with any co-occurring substance abuse issues – with effective, evidence-based treatment modalities. Call our 24/7 helpline for more info.
About the author
Brian Moore is a staff writer and graphic designer for the Sovereign Health Group. A 20-year veteran of the newspaper industry, he writes articles and creates graphics across Sovereign’s portfolio of marketing and content products. Brian enjoys music, bicycling and playing the tuba, which’s he’s done with varying degrees of success for over 25 years. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author and designer at firstname.lastname@example.org.