If you’re a man and you’re depressed, unlike a woman you are probably not talking about it. Don’t worry, you’re in the majority. The NIMH estimates that 6 million men per year are diagnosed with depression, but only a few of those will vocalize their feelings or reach out for help. Five suggestions are presented in this article to help you come to terms with your depression, and perhaps while doing so realize that you may need to seek professional help to overcome it, and that there is no shame in doing so.
Depressed males are generally left untreated largely because our culture puts many unrealistic expectations on men. They are expected to be decisive, energetic, optimistic, happy, the head bread winner, and of course to be sexually aggressive. Men are taught not to “cry,” as a child and to keep their self-doubts to themselves lest they are made to feel weak, ashamed, and unmanly.
You can change this stereotype about men by realizing that it’s okay to express your feelings and seek help. Male depression, left untreated can cause ruined marriages, sexual dysfunction, drinking or drug problems, and feelings of loneliness and failure.
First, understand that you are not alone! Resist the temptation to withdraw and isolate yourself from family and friends. Doing this will only deepen your feelings of alienation and will lengthen your depressive episode. Instead, force yourself to stay engaged and connected with others. Talk to another male friend you trust and share your feelings. As scary as that may sound to a man, sharing feelings and asking a friend for help is in no way a sign of weakness nor does it make you “less” of a man. In fact a lot of women (including your wife) will find you more attractive for it.
Second, learn to recognize the symptoms of depression, which are somewhat different from a woman’s. Male depression typically manifests itself with inappropriate anger and rage; violent or abusive behavior; feeling unappreciated or loved; escapism from work, home; drug or alcohol abuse; risky behavior; withdrawal from others and suicidal thoughts.
Third, if you experience any of the above symptoms for a prolonged time and can’t kick the depression on your own or with a friend’s help, then it’s time to seek professional help. Don’t be a fact that researchers have discovered about male depression. Researchers conclude that women seek help—men die. No man should let depression push him over the edge emotionally. There are solutions for depression that are available and effective, but only if you seek help.
Fourth, join a self-help group. I know this sounds daunting to most men, but it’s highly satisfying to meet other people who are in the same boat as you. Reinforcement from family and friends are not always enough. Being in a self-help group will enlighten and encourage you to get the help you need to overcome your depression. You will also make lifetime friends resulting from the common bond you share.
Fifth, push back some of the gloom and darkness that loom from depression by being prayerful and careful in your thoughts. Spend time in prayer, meditation, and reflection. When you descend into depression, there is a passage in Scripture that is helpful during this time. It is (Isaiah 40:29-31 NIV) and it reads (29)-“He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. (30)-Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; (31) but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint. Read these verses as many times as necessary to break out of the darkness and into the light.
Depression is not to be taken lightly. It robs you of precious time, joy, and living life to the fullest. Be proactive and take the necessary steps it takes to get back to living your life. Life is precious and brief, so don’t miss out on any more of it. Seek help, you can do this!
Note: The information in this article is for informational purposes only and in no way should be substituted for seeking the advice of a medical professional.
For more reading on Men and Depression: NIMH • Depression in Men
Article by: Victor Purachin- Title-5 Ways Men Can Overcome Depression, published in July 31, 2010 issue of War Cry of the Salvation Army.
Personal experience on women and depression