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: