June 14th through the 20th is Men’s Health Week, which is a great opportunity to heighten awareness for men’s depression. There is a theme in society applicable to most men as they tend to internalize depressive thoughts, not allowing for a proper diagnosis. There are four major reasons men do not reach out for help with their depression: failure to recognize the depression consuming them, downplaying signs and symptoms, reluctance to converse about their feelings with others, and resisting mental health treatment1. This has a trickling effect on coping mechanisms that are most often unhealthy ones. Coping through chronic, untreated depression often goes hand-in-hand with addiction and other negatively life-altering avenues. Without a formal diagnosis, these individuals will not receive necessary treatment that could possibly prevent devastating consequences such as suicide. The following behaviors include common indicators of men who struggle with depression1,2:
- Escapist such as abandoning some or most responsibilities
- Loss of interest in activities once found enjoyable
- Physiological changes like headaches, body pain, or digestive issues
- Drug and/or alcohol abuse
- Erratic behavior including violence, irritability, abrupt mood swings
- Risky decision-making, like reckless driving
While these behaviors, among many others not named, all fall under symptoms of mental health issues, a medical condition may quite possibly overlap which emphasizes the purpose of seeking professional help. On a positive note, men who sought treatment usually overcome the depression they are experiencing through medication and/or psychotherapy2. Refusing treatment or neglecting signs of mental health issues may impact every aspect of life from personal health and safety, career aspirations, and relationships1. This Men’s Mental Health Week here in June is a perfect reminder to men that depression does exist, and it is not subject to women only.
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1Mayo Clinic Staff (2019) Male Depression: Understanding the Issues, Retrieved on 15 June 2021 from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/male-depression/art-20046216
2NIH (2017) Men and Depression, Retrieved on 16 June 2021 from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/men-and-depression/