Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue


12 Depression Busters for Men: Help for Men Struggling with Depression

posted by Beyond Blue

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In Spring 2006 the depression of two very successful men made newspaper headlines in Maryland: Phil Merrill, a renowned publisher, entrepreneur and diplomat in the Washington area took his own life. Eleven days later Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan withdrew his candidacy for governor of Maryland because of his struggle with depression. For weeks, newspapers covered male depression, including the stories of Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Archbishop Raymond Roussin, Mike Wallace, William Styron, Art Buchwald, and Robin Williams.

That was unusual. Because, in the majority of media stories and infomercials, depression is regarded as a feminine thing … a result of all of the hormonal shifts and baby-making stuff. The reality? Six million men, or seven percent of American men, suffer from depression, and millions more suffer silently because they either don’t recognize the symptoms, which can vary from women’s, or they are too ashamed to get help for what they see as a woman’s disease. These 12 techniques were written for men to address the hidden desperation so many feel, and to expose the truth about mood disorders and gender.

1. Get a male perspective.

When I hit bottom after the birth of my second baby, I was lucky enough to see Brook Sheild’s beautiful face on “Oprah” describing how I felt. In her book, and in Kay Redfield Jamison’s “An Unquiet Mind” and Tracy Thompson’s “The Ghost in the House,” I found female companionship, as they articulated what was happening to me. That alone made me less scared.

There are some wonderful books tackling the male perspective of depression. Among them: “I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression” by Terrence Real, “Unmasking Male Depression” by Archibald Halt, and, of course, the classic, “Darkness Visible” by William Styron. There are also an array of blogs by men on the topic of depression and mental health. For example, check out “Storied Mind,” “Chipur.com,” “Knowledge Is Necessity,” “Lawyers with Depression,” “Midlife-Men.com,” “Finding Optimism,” and “A Splintered Mind.”

2. Identify the symptoms.

Part of what makes male depression so misunderstood is that a depressed guy doesn’t act the way a depressed lady does, and the feminine symptoms are the ones most often presented in pharmaceutical ads and in glossy brochures you pick up at your doctor’s office . For example, it is not uncommon for a man to complain to his primary care physician about sleep problems, headaches, fatigue and other unspecified pain, some or all of which may be related to untreated depression. In her Newsweek article, “Men & Depression,” Julie Scelfo writes, “Depressed women often weep and talk about feeling bad; depressed men are more likely to get into bar fights, scream at their wives, have affairs or become enraged by small inconveniences like lousy service at a restaurant.”

3. Limit the alcohol.

An interesting study by Yale University discovered that men and women respond to stress differently. According to lead scientist Tara Chaplin, women are much more likely to feel sad or anxious as a result of stress, whereas men turn to alcohol. “Men’s tendency to crave alcohol when upset may be a learned behavior or may be related to known gender differences in reward pathways in the brain,” she said. The tendency, however, puts men at more risk for alcohol-use disorders. And since alcohol is, itself, a depressive, you really don’t want a lot of it in your system. Trust me on this one.

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  • Jarrod – Inspirational Words

    http://www.OptimisticJourney.com
    I totally agree, I don’t see as many ads depicting the male symptoms of depression. It might be harder to determine male symptoms of depression because we generally aren’t as open with our emotions. Well said Therise, thanks for sharing!!

  • http://www.backontopthebook.com Ginger

    My husband suffered from depression since he was a child … he turned to drugs when he was a teenager and the combination prolonged and complicated his depression, adding anxiety and paranoia. It is an energy in your home that is almost overwhelming; it shadows even the good times. He is my ex now, and yet one of my best friends. He sought help in therapy, AA and a dual substance abuse/depression path at a wonderful rehab program. However, finding the right medical assistance, both in prescriptions and professional help — is an ongoing struggle. I applaud your article for many of its suggestions, and finding a male perspective as well as exercising are two of the most helpful tips. Thank you!

  • http://www.2knowmyself.com Farouk

    that was insightful, i was sure there will be some kind of bad relation between alcohol and depression

  • Sharon Wade

    An article for reading.

  • stephen blodgett

    I have depression lots of times and mood swings its not uncommon especially if a guy is a diabetic and the rise and fall of blood sugars my mood will change like a lite switch going on. I just focus on the Lord Jesus Christ and give him my moods, I workin in the garden a lot to help take my depression away , I go for motorcycle rides when I can , Money depresses me a lot being retired and not able to live on my retirement like I would like because 90% percent goes to the mortgage leaving me only a 200. a mont to live . I am a gay male and being alone and really feeling wanted depresses me a lot of the time , I m glad I have a dog and a cat I am finding that just having a computer actually makes all of us more lonely because we expect to have happiness by some electronic devise. I think we are only creating a lot more unhappy lonely people buy all of our electronic devise we have stopped being people who care. I feel very sad at the way the world is going today. We need each other more then we realize.

  • “Elwood”

    I’m so glad to see some focus being placed on a man’s symptoms and methods of recovery as I’ve grown tired of trying to transpose how depression and anxiety affect women, to what I experience. As a man of 32 years of age, I’ve been a sufferer of sometimes debilitating anxiety for 13 years and thinking back through my childhood, it’s become obvious that I’ve been a life long depressive. The worst of times seems to be when I am single, as I am now, and find myself unneeded to earn a living, care for our physical home, and provide for my family in whatever way necessary. As stated in the article, I often turn to excessive amounts of alcohol, and in the past, drugs, to fill whatever void I feel, whether I know what it is or not. I am oft times given to fits of extreme rage over things that I should be able to just take a deep breath and deal with. Though I’ve gotten fairly good at controlling my urges to just break stuff and/or beat someones face in, I think that my method is only stuffing away the anger only to escape somewheres down the line. The lack of good sleep and fatigue is also right on the money. I haven’t had a good and refreshing rest in years and have turned to many stimulates, legal and otherwise, for the past 10 years or so. None of which are doing me any good in the long run. And to be completely honest, I do think about eating a gun on a fairly regular basis. Although there have been years in the past when such a thought never crossed my mind. Usually when I was in a serious relationship and was “needed”. Worst of all, because of all of this, I feel less and less like a man everyday. On a lighter note, I have also found a few positive ways to deal with it all. Just about anything that makes me active and puts me out in nature has been a saving grace. I can’t fully explain how good I feel after an afternoon hike or kayaking a stretch of creek or river. Ashtanga yoga has also had some benefit. The physical demands of this style of yoga along with the mind cleansing effects that most yoga styles offer has also been a great help. Most of all, nothing has offered me more love, understanding, forgiveness, and joy than my dogs. Though I feel that I could and should be a much better dog “master” than I am, their goofy antics and begs for playtime and walks have pulled me from many a deep, dark hole. A dog truly is man’s best friend!

  • Sieed

    The way women and men handle depression may be a little different.Rcecently I had been checked out by my doctor for depression but it is like the moment I did this I was free and
    like my depression left me.Me being a believer we are taught to
    give G-d our problems in which I do.But I dont feel there
    is anything wrong with seeking help other than prayer if
    you’re struggling.Ive learned that seeking help in more than
    one way is the best answer.

  • http://www.premium-yogamat.com premium yoga mat

    Elwood is completely right.
    Yoga is one of the strongest things that can help you. There are many theories and explenations of how and why this or theat practice works, and it is all so interesting, BUT, the most important thing is that it DOES. regardless of knowing why.
    In medicine, when in full anesthetization, your body is completely out of it, and the doctors can cut into your body wihtout you feeling it. NO ONE KNOWS HOW THIS MATERIAL WORKS! it is used every day all over the world on thousands of patients, yet no one knows how it works..
    Yoga is easier to understand than that, yet it dos’nt matter. The most imoprtant thing for depression is getting better.
    Yoga practice makes it happen, in time and patience.
    It dosn’t matter if you want it or not, or if you are telling yourself how bad things are all day long – as long as you practice Yoga, in time, those thoughts and ideas will seem so rediculas to you, you will realize you are not depressed at all.
    It is an amazing moment, and I wish all depressed people would get on a Yoga Mat and start practicing.
    Feel good
    Namaste

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