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Men: Don't suffer with depression alone

THERE ARE certain responsibilities that come with being the ‘man of the house’. Many of these are considered by many to be routine: being the primary earner of the household, being Mr. Fix It, doing the heavy lifting, checking the car oil, mowing the lawn – the list could go on. Other responsibilities enable a man to compliment or be a buffer to others in the home, such as having a second opinion to that of his spouse, staying consistent with rules and helping to uphold values or standards in the household.

Where we allow some emotional leeway for women at times, the same cannot always be said of men – there is a general expectation that the man will not crumble into a heap at the slightest pressure (I’m not suggesting that women do, either!

Generally speaking, men are often expected to:

● Be able to cope with stressful situations

● Be able to look like they are in control and know what they are doing

● Be the ‘rock’ or unwavering one of the family

● Be a problem solver

● Command authority from the kids and have general respect within the family.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that women and children have it easy. I am simply stating that there are many unspoken pre-conceived ideas of the male figure. Men play their part and mostly follow along with these expectations, and because of this some men find it difficult to express themselves emotionally, or struggle to find an outlet during times of pressure and difficulty coping.

However, the truth is men can get depressed. As infallible as they seem, men can really struggle at times. Sometimes it is for minor reasons, such as boredom or their age. Other times it’s for things like feeling unfulfilled at work, coming to terms with not realising childhood dreams, or money matters.

Some of the symptoms of depression include:

● Persistent sad, anxious or empty mood

● Feeling of hopelessness, pessimism

● Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness

● Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed

● Decreased energy, fatigue, being ‘slowed down’

● Difficulty concentrating, remembering making decisions

● Trouble sleeping, early morning awakening or oversleeping

● Appetite and/or weight changes

● Thoughts of death or suicide

● Restlessness, irritability

● Persistent physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive disorders and chronic pain which does not respond to routine treatment.

PRIDE

So, if you are a guy who has been feeling some of these symptoms recently, sometimes it’s hard to know what to do.

There is certainly an element of pride that comes with being a male – it’s hard not to feel like you are being weak or showing weakness by admitting some of these feelings. You should know that you are not alone in feeling this way – in fact, it’s been estimated that annually, depression affects seven to 12 per cent of men. In the US alone, this equates to more than six million men.

The first thing you need to do is acknowledge the fact that you are feeling this way. Don’t pretend that everything is fine. If you are experiencing symptoms that might suggest you are depressed, do something about it. Ignoring it or trying to cope with it on your own can make things even more stressful or hopeless.

Seek some help. Yes, this can be hard to do. I’m as bad as any guy when it comes to asking for help.

However, your family and loved ones need you, and you need yourself to be in good shape. This means physically, emotionally, spiritually - don’t ignore signs that you need help in your life. There are many ways to get started with tackling depression, the first thing is to talk to someone about it.

If you’re not comfortable talking with your spouse or family, start with your GP who can give you some recommendations and treatment or send you to a specialist. There are many treatments that can help a lot with depression – sometimes this involves medication, other times it’s about management and knowing what to do when symptoms occur.

Most communities have other outlets such as mental health specialists, family clinics or other health avenues where you can get started with talking to someone. See your GP to find out the best people to talk to near you, or visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/depression for more information.

The important thing is don’t delay – realise you need help and do something about it. Go on, be a man.

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