Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Men Get Depression

There is more stigma for men to seek help with depression. But the truth is, men have feelings and aren't immune to psychological trauma. Men do get depression. Getting depression does not take away from a man's masculinity or make him weak: real men get depression. Depression is a real illness, like diabetes, cancer, or heard disease; it is treatable; and men can haveit. It takes courage to ask for help, but help can make all thedifference.

Symptoms of major depression (1-9 are from DSM-IV):
  1. Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including food and sex
  3. Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
  4. Feelings of excessive guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  5. Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down"
  6. Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  7. Trouble sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  8. Appetite changes or weight changes
  9. Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  10. Restlessness, irritability, anger
  11. Persistent physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain, which do not respond to routine treatment

Some themes and symptoms from the documentary "Men Get Depression"
  • Isolation.
  • Eating a lot.
  • Worthlessness. Feeling different from everybody else, like you are weird, incompetent, and even subhuman. 
  • Forgetting what it is like to feel "normal".
  • Rage, breaking things.
  • Hard to get out of bed.
  • Feeling extremely "down". Pain seems bottomless.
  • Putting up a front to meet others' expectations of who you should be.
  • Affects all aspects of your life: relationships, school, and work.
  • Thoughts are out of control. "Wheels are spinning."
  • Offers to help (such as, "I think you should see a therapist") are taken as criticism.
  • Loved ones are "walking on eggshells" for fear of triggering a feat of rage or hurting your feelings.
  • Impulsive and risky behavior, thrill-seeking.
  • A sense that it's something that can be brushed away, because you can't see it. A sense that there is a single cause, and if I could just find what it is, this weight would go away.
  • Difficulty of accepting that it's something more, that it won't go away easily, and that you have no control over it, and that it is a real disease. 
  • Normalizing depression: believing that it is the normal way to feel, and that the feelings are the natural response to life's stressors. "It's just how life is... It seems like it's never going to end, things aren't going to get better." However, thinking about depression as an illness is powerful because it gives hope that things could be changed.
  • "I feel uncomfortable talking about it because it means you are weak."
  • "Nobody picked up on the signs I exhibited. I wish somebody did, because it would show that somebody cared about me."
  • Problems and emotions seem unmanageable.
  • The positive that came out of it was: gaining new coping skills, having pride in overcoming the biggest adversity in the human experience, knowing your abilities and your limits, recognizing signs of an upcoming episode to prevent a relapse.

Some men who have had depression:

William Styron, writer and author of Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Depression
"[Depression is] despair beyond despair... In depression this faith in deliverance, in ultimate restoration, is absent. The pain is unrelenting, and what makes the condition intolerable is the foreknowledge that no remedy will come- not in a day, an hour, a month, or a minute... In virtually any other serious sickness, a patient who felt similar devastation would by lying flat in bed, possibly sedated and hooked up to the tubes and wires of life-support systems, but at the very least in a posture of repose and in an isolated setting. His invalidism would be necessary, unquestioned and honorably attained. However, the sufferer from depression has no such option."

Andrew Solomon, writer and author of Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression
"The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and it was vitality that seemed to seep out of me. I remember particularly that I would come home, and I would listen to the messages on my answering machine, and instead of being pleased to hear from my friends, I would feel tired, and think, that's an awful lot of people to have to call back."

Drew Carey, Comedian, host of "Who's Line Is It Anyway?" and "The Price Is Right"
"I was depressed for a long time... I remember going to a frat party, and everybody was having a good time, and laughing and meeting girls. And I was just 'why are they having a good time, what do they got to be happy about?' I just couldn't understand why I was so miserable. Back then I was so full of a lot of self-hate... I [thought I] wasn't as good as they were, I wasn't as worthy as they are. And all that stuff makes you just hate yourself and judge yourself."

Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America
"I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me."

William James, American psychologist
"[Depression is] a positive and active anguish."

Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the U.K.
"[Depression is] the Black Gog."

Philip Burguieres, CEO of a Fortune 500 company
"The stigma associated with the illness is so strong. I estimate that 50% of CEOs, at some point in their lives, experience depression. I receive calls about it daily, and at least twice a week I meet CEOs who are struggling or have struggled with depression... If your employee has leukemia, you’re not going to cut off his or her benefit. Yet insurance coverage is often denied for the treatment of depression, a medical condition that costs billions of dollars in lost productivity. A huge amount of those losses would go away if businesses ensures that mental-health and substance-abuse disorders receive the same insurance coverage as physical illnesses. It makes good business sense. The cost for parity for the Houston Texans is less than one percent of our total costs for medical insurance.”

Patrick McCathern, First Sergeant, U.S. Air Force (Retired)
"I'd drink and I'd just get numb. I'd get numb to try to numb my head. I mean, we're talking many, many beers to get to that state where you could shut your head off, but then you wake up the next day and it's still there. Because you have to deal with it, it doesn't just go away. It isn't a two-hour movie and then at the end it goes 'The End' and you press off. I mean it's a twenty-four hour a day movie and you're thinking there is no end. It's horrible."

Rene Ruballo, Police Officer.
“I can remember it started with a loss of interest in basically everything that I like doing. I just didn’t feel like doing anything. I just felt like giving up. Sometimes I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I lost interest with the kids and doing the things that we used to do… you know, that families do. I wouldn’t feel rested at all. I’d always feel tired. I could get from an hour’s sleep to eight hours sleep and I would always feel tired.”

Paul Gottlieb, Publisher
"Your tendency is just to wait it out, you know, let it get better. You don’t want to go to the doctor. You don’t want to admit to how bad you’re really feeling."

Jimmy Brown, Fire Fighter
"There's a huge stigma in admitting any problem. They think I'm a big, tough fireman. I'm supposed to be able to deal with anything…to be able to just pick up, carry on, like the old commissioner said, 'Just be able to suck it up. And just keep going.' It's not that easy. No, when you're in the middle of it, you just don't know if it's gonna end, where it's gonna end, how it's gonna end. There were days when I thought I'd never be myself again."

Shawn Colten, National Diving Champion
"You don’t have any interest in thinking about the future, because you don’t feel that there is going to be any future. You start to have these little thoughts, ‘Wait, maybe I can get through this. Maybe these things that are happening to me aren’t so bad.’ And you start thinking to yourself, ‘Maybe I can deal with things for now.’ And it’s just little tiny throughts until you realize that it’s gone and then you go, ‘Oh my God, thank you, I don’t feel sad anymore.’ And then when it was finally gone, when I felt happy, I was back to the usual things that I was doing in my life. You get so happy because you think to yourself, ‘I never thought it would leave.’ ”

Bill Maruyama, Lawyer
"When I was feeling depressed I was very reckless with my life. I didn’t care about how I drove, I didn’t care about walking across the street carefully, I didn’t care about dangerous parts of the city. I wouldn’t be affected by any kinds of warnings on travel or places to go. I didn’t care. I didn’t care whether I lived or died and so I was going to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. And when you take those kinds of chances, you have a greater likelihood of dying.

Melvin Martin, Marketing Executive.
"The depression became an entity that I was able to identify. Sometimes I would actively and aggressively pick fights because I thought maybe I could beat it…I could physically beat the way I felt out of me or have someone else beat it out of me. I thought that if I just received a great enough shock to my system and physical trauma…it would force the depression out of me."