Men and Depression
Absolutely everyone has down days and weeks, and, inevitably, we all face difficult periods throughout life – circumstantial low mood or depression – which can often be attributed to traumatic life events such as the breakdown of a relationship, health problems, redundancy or the loss of a loved one.
But what if a ‘difficult period’ turns into a prolonged period and things seem to be getting increasingly harder, not easier? Sometimes there doesn’t even need to be a trigger for how you are feeling - you may find yourself in the doldrums for no clear reason at all. Worse still, you may feel completely powerless and unable to lift yourself out of this inexplicable change of mood, which can be frustrating to say the least.
Depression is an illness, just like any other, and – as with a broken leg, an ear infection or a knee injury - sometimes treatment is essential in order to get better. In the past, depression has been somewhat of a taboo subject and too many people suffered unnecessarily, despite help being available. Today we are better equipped to deal with mental health problems than at any point in the past and things are starting to change – more people than ever are talking about how they are feeling and moving forward with the right support to tackle depression and mental health problems head on. As with the aforementioned broken leg or knee injury - there is absolutely no shame in asking for medical help, why should mental illness be any different? And let’s face it, you’re in good company – 1 in 4 of us will at some point experience a mental health problem, we just don’t talk about it as much as we should.
To read one man’s experience of opening up about his depression and fighting back, visit Mind.
The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) suggests that suicidal feelings are actually fairly common, and may be the fleeting result of panic triggered by an unexpected event or an unfamiliar situation. CALM says these thought are not necessarily abnormal, as long as the feeling is passing and doesn’t last for extensive periods of time, block out other thoughts or become overwhelming. If such thoughts begin taking over other thoughts and remain at the forefront of your mind, then it is definitely time to seek advice.
First step – recognising there may be a problem
According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, signs that you may have developed depression include:
- Persistent sadness or low mood
- Feeling unable to enjoy things you used to
- Losing interest in life
- Difficulty making decisions
- Feeling unable to cope with things that you used to find easy or straightforward
- Feeling exhausted
- Feeling restless or agitated
- Loss of appetite or sometimes overeating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of libido, or sex drive
- Thoughts of harming yourself.
If any of this sounds familiar, reach out to someone you trust and tell them how you have been feeling. Hopefully this step will set you on the path to getting some support and, ultimately, improving how you are feeling.
Depression can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying illness, so it’s definitely worth checking in with your GP. It’s also worth remembering that depression may be the result of a physiological change in the brain, when the chemicals that control our mood become unbalanced. In this case, medication can quite literally be life-saving, while others might find talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), perhaps coupled with some lifestyle changes, is all they need to help them manage the everyday. Often, a combination of treatments may be required but studies show that being the decision maker behind your own treatment plan makes it more likely to be effective. Whatever approach you decide to take, what matters is identifying the right combination of help and support to enable you to get well again. Find out more information on CBT.
If you are a member of General & Medical and would like help then you can use our Health and Wellbeing service which will give you 24/7 access to teams of experienced, qualified and trained counsellors who are on hand to provide you with support on a wide range of issues.
For more information on men and depression, visit the RCpsych website.
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