If you believe you’re one of millions of men living with depression, there are certain things you need to know. First off, depression in men is different than it is in women. Second off, it’s not your fault and you’re not alone. This page will give you some important information about depression and offer you practical tips for handling it.
What Causes Depression?
Like most mental health problems, depression doesn’t have just one cause. Depression usually occurs as a result of a combination of physical, emotional, and environmental factors. Here are the most common contributors to the development of depression:
- Poor Nutrition
It may surprise you to know that. Meaning, if most of your diet consists of fast food and processed microwaveable meals, it could be contributing to your depressed mood. Essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, magnesium, and omega 3 are found in whole foods, not in a box or a bag. For a better outlook on life as well as a healthier body, dine on more fresh foods like organic vegetables, fruits, meat, and whole grains.
- Work Stress
In this economy, you’re grateful to even have a job. But cutbacks and layoffs may have you suddenly doing the job of two or three other guys. Constant stress not only can cause high blood pressure, it can lead to burnout and depression. If you’re feeling under the gun at work, be honest with your boss and see if you can delegate some of those responsibilities.
- Relationship Problems
Whether it’s a romantic partner, business associate or family member, chronic difficulty in any relationship can lead to depression. If your mental health is suffering because of a personal or business relationship issue, try to solve the issue amicably. This may be as simple as sitting down and having a heart to heart, attending counseling or, if it fits the situation, letting the relationship go. Only you can decide the approach that’s best for you.
- Chronic Illness
No guy likes being down for the count with a cold or flu, but those types of minor illness rarely lead to depression. But men who suffer from a chronic illness or injury may suffer from the effects of depression. As a man, you’re expected to be the provider. When you’re unable to work and take care of others, your mental health can suffer. If you’re living with a chronic illness, don’t just tend to your body; tend to your mind as well.
- Job Loss/Financial Concerns
Men struggling with job loss and financial concerns are at a big risk for developing depression. According to an article published in Time Magazine, the recent recession is partly responsible for the increase in male depression. Men who’ve been out of work for longer than 1 year are at increased risk for substance abuse, irritability, stress, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. If you’re in this boat, stay active. Start a building project, lend out your handyman services to your neighbor or volunteer at a local charity. This will not only renew your sense of purpose but these networking opportunities could lead to a new career!
- Death in the Family
A death in the family is never easy for anyone to go through. Men who’ve recently lost a close relative such as a parent, child or spouse are at increased risk for developing depression. If you’ve experienced a death in the family, don’t go it alone. There’s no shame in getting the support you need in the form of a support group or private therapy.
- Family History
For some men, depression isn’t a matter of environment or stress; it may just run in his family.
10 Common Symptoms of Depression in Men
Depressed men often experience the same symptoms of depression as women, but they may manifest themselves differently. Let’s take a look at some of the most common symptoms associated with depressed men:
Unlike women, fatigue is one of the primary complaints among depressed men. This isn’t just the tired feeling you experience after a long hard day on the job either. This is the bone-weary feeling of dragging around all day long.
While women experiencing depression will most likely be somber and tearful, men living with depression may notice an increase in irritability. Suddenly you’re snapping at your co-workers, flipping people off in traffic or fighting with your significant other.
3. Insomnia/Sleeping too Much
Sleep disturbances are another common symptom of depression in men. Some men may sleep 10-12 hours but still not feel rested while others will toss and turn all night long.
4. Feelings of Hopelessness
Men experiencing depression may struggle with intense feelings of hopelessness. They may feel like the weight of the world is literally on their shoulders and there is little they can do to get out from under.
5. Erectile Dysfunction
Depressed men commonly struggle with erectile dysfunction. This is because depressed mood can lead to low self-esteem and loss of interest in sex. What’s worse, some anti-depressant medication causes sexual side effects such as loss of libido and erectile dysfunction.
Anxiety and feeling of panic are common among depressed men. Men may be able to get support from peers about this because it may be easier for a man to admit he’s feeling uneasy or worried rather than sad.
7. Substance Abuse
When men feel as if there’s something wrong, he may turn to drugs or alcohol to escape that feeling. This can be devastating for his health as alcohol is a depressant and will only make things worse. Street and even prescription drugs can be abused until serious health problems result, making depression worse.
Men experiencing depression often have difficulty with concentration and information processing. He may know he has to pay a certain bill on time or make an important business decision but he just can’t bring himself to do it. This type of disordered thinking is common in depressed men.
9. Stomachache or Backache
Men living with depression often report to their doctor complaining of stomachaches, constipation and/or backaches. Depression isn’t just a “mental thing”; it can have physical symptoms as well.
10. Suicidal Thoughts or Actions
This is when things get serious. Men struggling with depression may have ignored their symptoms so long they are now beginning to entertain suicidal thoughts. Any man considering suicide should get help from a suicide-prevention service immediately.
Effective Treatments for Depressed Men
Men struggling with the effects of depression have plenty of conventional and natural treatments available to them.
Depressed men looking to find some camaraderie among others can look to a support group to share their burden. To find support groups in your area, do an Internet search of “depression support groups” to see what pops up. You can also check out websites such as DailyStrength.org or SupportGroups.com to get some anonymous online support.
Depressed men looking for some one on one support might consider talking to a certified therapist. This doesn’t necessarily mean booking an appointment with a psychiatrist. There are plenty of therapists who just listen, share your burden and offer practical solutions instead of just offering medication.
When living with depression makes your work and home life suffer to the point where daily living is a struggle, your doctor might consider prescribing an anti-depressant. This treatment, combined with talk therapy may help relieve severity of depression.
One of the best natural defenses against the effects of depression is eating a healthy, well-rounded diet. According to an article published on Natural News, people who live on a diet of fast and processed food increase their risk of developing depression by a whopping 50%!
Men experiencing depression may find natural relief with acupuncture. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese healing modality that concentrates on the life-force energy called “Chi”. This treatment stimulates the central nervous system with hollow-pointed needles placed on certain areas of the body. This brings about the body’s natural healing response.
If you’re like most men, you associate a visit to the chiropractor with neck or back injury but studies show regular chiropractic care can work to boost mood naturally. Men who’ve experienced a previous physical or mental trauma might develop something called vertebral subluxations. This means the body is unable to function properly due to an interference with the nervous system. A series of chiropractic adjustments can correct this problem and may relieve the effects of depression.
No matter what’s causing your depression, you’re in control. You’re now armed with the information you need to make informed decisions about your care.