But Men dont get depression…

I was asked by the Mental Health Foundation to write something for them as it is “Men’s Health Week” see more on their Facebook page here

 

It always struck me as strange that woman are so much more open about discussing their mental health illnesses than men are. Often we are more worried about how we are perceived by our friends and family to actually admit that we have an issue. This comes long before we find the strength to seek help and speak about depression with our GP.
The stigma attached to depression often forces men to simply deny they have any issues because we don’t want to be seen as weak, <insert cave man voice here> “ug man strong”.

This was one of my main reasons for wanting to branch into the blogging world and share my experiences with others, men in particular, to dispel the myth of weakness and depression being linked. Going to my GP and breaking down in tears as I explained my problems and feelings to him didn’t scare me half as much as announcing it to friends and family let alone social media but I was determined to show that even though I suffer with depression I have the strength to tackle it head on whilst trying to help others in the process.
There are a lot of men out there still too proud to talk about depression with partner/children but for me I have never tried to hide it from them (once diagnosed of course). It helps to talk about how your struggling because it gets it all off your chest.

One of the things I have come to realise is that the weight of keeping everything inside is a lot more than the weight of people thinking I am weak because I have depression.
I cannot emphasis enough that the best way to deal with depression is to talk about it with loved ones or friends. The more people we have talking about depression will only decrease the stigma we feel about it, and by you speaking out it not only helps you but could help others as well. From my own experience I can tell you that people really appreciate knowing others are talking about mental health because it makes things easier for them.
As for me, I battle daily with my demons but I always have an ear for someone who wants to talk about depression, sometimes that’s all people with depression require….

Finding My Role

Something interesting happened to me on twitter yesterday that surprised and delighted me at the same time.

I received a message in my inbox from someone who wanted me to contact someone she followed because she was concerned about his tweets and the content of them.

Why is this a good thing? well to me it is fantastic because it means I am getting known as someone who can help others with depression. This is one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place after all.

It was a really proud moment for me!

I spoke to the man and gave him the link for the depression questionnaire and he was surprise at his score. It had never occurred to him that he could have depression as he himself said

I guess my vision of a severely depressed person was someone who had just stopped living life all together,never leaving their home.”

Job done by the moose he intends to see his GP and talk to them about how he feels etc.

It is hard to describe how happy it made me that someone came to me to help someone else.

I really enjoy that aspect of this blog, I certainly do better helping other people than I do myself at times.

I just wish I knew where I could go in terms of my role. I would like consider myself as a writer but lets be honest I am not that good and the depression always rears its negative side when it comes to sales figures. It cannot be helped it is just human nature and something that will never change in my head until the sales are so high I can just sit back and count the money 😀

Or am I happy to help other people?  I sure do like it but I am not a professional and just someone coping with the illness, some days not very well.

Either way there needs to be something in my future where I can combine my writing and helping others and earn a living in the process!

Today I am in a good place and all negative thoughts have been locked away in the cupboard and I intend to keep them there for a while.

Men and Women Suffer Differently

So as we all know men are from Mars and women are from a whole different, as yet undiscovered and completely alien to all men, universe. Okay this may not be entirely true as apparently they are from Venus but you know what I mean right? (Ducks to avoid the shoes and handbags being thrown in his direction!)

But the point is men and women are different in many ways especially in how we think and deal with emotions and the ability to talk about problems. As you know I do spend a lot of time browsing the internet for research about depression and came across a site which suggested more women suffer from depression than men. For the life of me I can find the link to the website stupid history removing person!! How accurate is this though? Could it be that women are just more prepared to seek help and acknowledge that they have a problem whereas men are more likely to be in denial about being depressed – back to the “needing help is a weakness” issue!

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_men_male.htm has lots of information about men and depression and a nice handy table of differences between men and women with depression.

Differences between male and female depression
Women with depression tend to: Men with depression tend to:
Blame themselves Blame others
Feel sad, apathetic, and worthless Feel angry, irritable, and ego inflated
Feel anxious and scared Feel suspicious and guarded
Avoid conflicts at all costs Create conflicts
Feel slowed down and nervous Feel restless and agitated
Have trouble setting boundaries Need to feel in control at all costs
Find it easy to talk about self-doubt and despair Find it “weak” to admit self-doubt or despair
Use food, friends, and “love” to self-medicate Use alcohol, TV, sports, and sex to self-medicate

This really interests me and shows, to me anyway, how men seem to revert to caveman type in dealing with depression. “Ugh me man, ugh me depressed, ugh me fight” etc etc

The funny thing is its so true look at the list properly again its scary! Its like almost each stage was me at one point until I finally sought help then I moved over to the woman’s side of the list and wished I had been there earlier!

One of the things that really interests me about doing this blog is the question of my readers gender. I would imagine around 75% + of my readers are women.

Is it because the subject matter is something men wouldn’t read because it makes them uncomfortable?

Is it because women are more likely to want to read my thoughts out of interest in me personally as I know some of my friends on Facebook are genuinely interested.

Is it because unless its porn or sport men don’t read articles online LOL

Whatever the reasoning I would like to think some women are reading my blogs because the recognise the symptoms, thoughts and behavior I describe in myself or from the links I have posted in their partners, friends or family.

So what else should we be looking for in men who we think have depression?….

Understanding depression in men

Depression is not a sign of emotional weakness or failing of masculinity. It is a treatable health condition that affects millions of men of all ages and backgrounds, as well as those who care about them—spouses, partners, friends, and family. It can also lead to heart disease and other serious medical problems. Of course, it’s normal for anyone to feel down from time to time—dips in mood are an ordinary reaction to losses, setbacks, and disappointments in life. However, if intense feelings of despair and hopelessness take hold of you, and interfere with work, family, and your ability to enjoy life, you may be suffering from depression.

Unfortunately, depression in men can often be overlooked as many of us find it difficult to talk about our feelings. Instead, we tend to focus on the physical symptoms that often accompany depression, such as back pain, headaches, difficulty sleeping, or sexual problems. This can result in the underlying depression going untreated, which can have serious consequences. In fact, men suffering from depression are four times more likely to commit suicide than women. It’s important for any man to seek help with depression before feelings of despair become feelings of suicide. You need to talk honestly with a friend, loved one, or doctor about what’s going on in your mind as well as your body. Once correctly diagnosed, there is plenty you can do to successfully treat and manage depression.

Signs and symptoms of depression in men

Men can experience depression in different ways to women. You may develop the standard symptoms of depression and become sad and withdrawn, losing interest in friends and activities you used to enjoy. Or you may become irritable and aggressive, compulsively working, drinking more than normal, and engaging in high risk activities.

Unfortunately, men are far less adept at recognizing their symptoms than women. A man is more likely to deny his feelings, hide them from himself and others, or try to mask them with other behaviors. The three most common signs of depression in men are:

  • Physical pain. Sometimes depression in men shows up as physical symptoms—such as backache, frequent headaches, sleep problems, sexual dysfunction, or digestive disorders—that don’t respond to normal treatment.
  • Anger. This could range from irritability, sensitivity to criticism, or a loss of your sense of humor to road rage, a short temper, or even violence. Some men become abusive, controlling, verbally or physically abusive to wives, children, or other loved ones.
  • Reckless behavior. A man suffering from depression may start exhibiting escapist or risky behavior. This could mean pursuing dangerous sports, driving recklessly, or engaging in unsafe sex. You might drink too much, abuse drugs, or gamble compulsively.

Triggers for depression in men

There’s no single cause of depression in men. Biological, psychological, and social factors all play a part, as do lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills. Stressful life events or anything that makes you feel useless, helpless, alone, profoundly sad, or overwhelmed by stress can also trigger depression in men. These could include:

  • Overwhelming stress at work, school, or home
  • Marital or relationship problems
  • Not reaching important goals
  • Losing or changing a job; embarking on military service
  • Constant money problems
  • Health problems such as chronic illness, injury, disability
  • Recently quitting smoking
  • Death of a loved one
  • Family responsibilities such as caring for children, spouse, or aging parents
  • Retirement; loss of independence

I don’t like copying and pasting as a rule but do find it is good to get this information out there in a place where it is more accessible without a Google search so I cut out the middle man and find it for you! Your Welcome 🙂

I wish I had looked up this information 2 years ago but its never a good thing to try and self-diagnose over the internet as in the past few years I have had more tropical diseases than Tarzan courtesy of  the NHS  website!

The best thing to do if you recognise yourself in my posts is speak to your doctor, speak to a friend or family member but please do not speak to that voice in your head that tells you everything is OK.

Talking about your thoughts will not only get you any help you may need but you will feel like a huge burden has been lifted and its the first stage to getting better, it’s also the most important stage! Until you are ready to admit you need help your not going to get better.

There is medication available and although there is a stigma attached to taking anti-depressants they can and will help you! Some do have side effects but if they are affecting you speak to the doctor who will change them!

I am 3 months into my course of them and have changed once due to side effects and the new ones given work like a charm and I feel no addiction to them but I do feel they help!

Have a great day!

Garry