I’ve struggled with depression for several years. My friends and family know this now, so I don’t try to hide it any more. But for years I did. Why, because it makes me feel weak, and somehow broken. And being a therapist, who struggles with depression, doesn’t make it any easier to talk about it openly.
I am not alone. More than six million American men will have an episode of major depression this year, which is seven percent of the male population. Although depression in men really isn’t that rare, it’s just most often ignored and untreated.
Because, like most men we don’t like to talk about how we feel. Especially if we don’t like the way we feel. We’re more likely say that we’re tired, rather than share any feelings, such as sadness, worthlessness, or guilt. Although we feel them, telling anyone about it might make us appear weak. And we’ll do almost anything to never appear weak. Sad isn’t it?
Most often men struggling with depression come to see me because they or their family thinks that they have anger management problem. Why anger, because most men struggling with depression try to “power” out of it. Hoping that by sheer will they can break the black fog that engulfs them day in and day.
The No. 1 sign of depression in the majority of men is anger. A typical stereotype of a depressed person is someone who withdraws or like the person who can’t get out of bed. But for many men, depression looks just the opposite — they don’t withdraw, they attack. As a result, an angry man often is a depressed man.
Here are the most common signs and symptoms of men struggling with depression:
- Feeling sad or “empty”
- Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or angry
- Loss of interest in work, family, or once-pleasurable activities, including sex
- Feeling very tired
- Always wanting to isolate yourself.
- Buries himself in work
- Not being able to concentrate or remember details
- Not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
- Overeating, or not wanting to eat at all
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
- Inability to meet your responsibilities of work, caring for family, or other important activities.
- Unwilling to get any help or admit he needs help.
Everyone feels sad or irritable sometimes, or has trouble sleeping occasionally. But these feelings and troubles usually pass after a couple of days. When a man has depression, he has trouble with daily life and loses interest in anything for weeks at a time.
Does any of this sound like you? If so, now is the time to reach out for help. We’ve learned so much in treating men struggling with depression. No matter how strong you might think you are, you can’t power out of this.
Here are some recommendations on getting help;
- Start by telling a trusted friend or loved one.
- Ask them to help you find help.
- Follow through with setting up that first appointment and keep it.
- Remember what you don’t reveal you can’t heal. Be honest, don’t minimize or omit how your truly feel.
Things to remember while you’re getting help:
- Go easy on yourself.
- Break up large tasks into small ones, and do what you can as you can. Don’t try to do too many things at once.
- Spend time with other people and talk to a friend or relative about your feelings.
- Do not make important decisions until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well.
My depression tends to be more seasonal than constant. During those times I strive to consistently communicate my feelings and frustrations with trusted family and friends. As a therapist, I also see a therapist. I don’t know about you, but I can use all the help I can get. And I take the necessary medications I need to get better. I’ve accepted that I may struggle with depression the rest of my life. But my depression doesn’t define me as a man. Nor should it define you.
I hope this blog was an encouragement to you. If so check out these other blogs: “Healthy Beliefs Generate a Healthy Identity”, and “The Difference One Degree of Change Can Make”
I hope today’s blog was encouraging to you; if so, sign up to receive blogs when posted on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Unbreakablebond.org/ is designed to help you discover and develop authentic, healthy intimacy in all your relationships.
I also provide one-on-one coaching, if you would like to improve your relationships, or you want someone to talk to, e-mail me at ‘email@example.com’, and we’ll schedule a time to connect. My hope for you is that through these blogs, references, and resources, God will transform you from being bruised or broken to an abundantly blessed man.