Last week we began the revision of depression. Today and next week we shall focus on depression in men.
It was in 25 MAY 2015 that we first met Steve Garong, ex-captain of a national team.You daren’t think it, knowing whereyou are. You are in acastlebuilt from the fortunes of professional football.
Mr. Garong had undergone a negative transformation. It crept upon him unawares. Aman who once was called “a tiger in the field”, had become a lamb. He was afraid of heights. He was afraid of lights. Above all, he was afraid of himself.Why? Because, thoughts of suicide hauntedMr. Garong. Aged 36,he had everything to live for. All the same he was suffering from depression.And, he didnot even know it!
UNLETTERED EXPLORERS ….
We shall renew a rediscovery. We’ll see why a poet once wrote:
“I set out not knowing what I sought
like an unlettered explorer
with maps he could not read.”
PART OF THE TURF: COLLATERAL DAMAGE
Some say thatMr. Garong’s depression is collateral damage. Others say it is part of the turf. Male depression is not rare in professionals. Examples are athletes, boxers and footballers. Nor is it rare in professions you’dleast suspect. Fourof these are investment bankers, commercial farmers, salesmen and actors.
THE NATURE OF THE BEAST
When it comes to depression, the male of the species behaves like an alien. Our source is The Mayo Clinic article entitled: “Male depression- understanding the issues”. It began: “Male depression is a serious condition but many men ignore it or refuse treatment.”
CLUES INTO DEPRESSION IN MEN
- Do you feel irritable, isolated or withdrawn?
- Do you find yourself:
- Working all the time, but, with low or zero output?
Drinking too much?
THE DIFFERENCE: MASK!
“When depression occurs in men, it may be masked by unhealthy coping behaviors.” In such “patients”, all becomes veiled, except to the eyes of experienced clinical psychologists.
AN ALARM ,AND, THE GOOD NEWS
“Male depression often goes undiagnosed and can have devastating consequences when it remains untreated.” Here’s the goodnews. “Male depression usually gets better with treatment.”
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS: BEWARE!
“Men and women experience depression differently. “ Thisstatement is fact. The reasons are obscure. The factors include “brain chemistry, hormones and life experiences.”
“I GET NO SATISFACTION”
Men with depression often show thesefour features (among others). Most of the time, they feel blue and tired. Theysleep poorly. They get no satisfaction from activities they enjoyed once upon a time.
If the above four features seem familiar, believe your eyes. They are familiarbecause they are the same ways in which depression affects women. But, that is where the similarities end. Enter the aliens.
Other behaviors can be the signs of depression in men, but they are not recognized as such. Let’sgroup them into five categories:
- Escapist behavior, such as spending a lot of time at work or on sports
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- Controlling, violent or abusive behavior
- Irritability or inappropriate anger
Risky behavior, such as reckless driving,
There is one risk. These behaviors can be signs of other types of mental illness. Or, they might overlap. So, professional help is the key. The patient needsaccurate diagnosis and effective treatment.
MALE DEPRESSION OFTEN GOES UNDIAGNOSED
The reasons include these four:
- Failure to recognize depression
- Down-playing signs & symptoms
- Reluctance to discuss symptoms of depression
- Resisting medical treatment
Today, we’ll discuss only one of the four categories:
- Reluctance to discuss symptoms of depression.
- Mendo not like talking about their feelings with family or friends, let alone with health care professionals. All menextol the virtues of self-control. It isn’t manly to express feelings and emotions associated with depression. So,men suppress them.
There aresimilaritiesbetween men and women.
- Failure to recognize depression
- Some think that feeling sad is the main symptom of depression. But, in men,feeling sad isn’t the primary symptom of depression.
- The patient downplays his signs and symptoms
- Resisting mental health treatment.
- Even if he suspectsthat he has depression, he avoids diagnosis. He refuses treatment.
THE BIG ONE
Next time, we’ll take on the big one: suicide.
We opened with suicide. On suicide we end.Remember Mr. Garong? “Above all,theman was afraid of himself.”
Now we may agree. When it comes to depression in men, indeed, some of us are like unlettered explorers with maps we cannot read.