Believing that only women and weak men are victims of depression does not really hold true as the number of male patients being diagnosed with the mental disorder is increasing by the day. Anyone, including the strongest of men, can be affected by depression, which can have a long-lasting impact on their physical and psychological well-being.
Although many men may not experience the usual signs of depression, it can easily be detected by symptoms like loss of interest in work, family or hobbies, experiencing difficulties in sleeping, grappling with feelings of anger, aggression, sadness and low self-esteem.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), nearly 6 million American men suffer from depression every year. However, men usually refrain from seeking help for most of the mental disorders, including depression, as compared to women. This is precisely why most men end up suffering silently for prolonged periods of time and are more prone to commit suicide than women. “Men account for 3.5 times the number of suicides as women. And depression is one of the leading causes of suicide,” said the report.
Moreover, the fact that men not only have to fight depression, but also the stigma attached to it, prevents them from seeking any professional help. Also, the fear of being perceived as weak or unmanly further aggravates the problem, restricting men from consulting psychiatrists.
Myths revolving around depression in men
It is unfortunate that most men fail to recognize, acknowledge, or seek professional help for their depression due to various myths associated with the mental disorder. Some of the misconceptions linked with depression are:
Depression is a sign of weakness: Most people believe that depression is a woman’s affliction. On the contrary, it is a serious mental health condition faced by millions of men each year, especially in the United States. It is just like any other physical health condition, such as hypertension or diabetes, and has nothing to do with personal or moral weakness.
Controlling feelings is a manly thing: Depression causes serious changes in one’s mood. Whether it is a man or a woman, it is impossible to control the way one feels, but choosing how to react when facing an unpleasant situation is certainly controllable.
Real men don’t ask for help: Traditionally, men are under pressure to display their strength and valor, which often leads them to battle a mental health condition on their own. Thus, most men refrain from consulting a mental health professional despite having an in-depth knowledge of depression and related treatment options.
Talking about depression is of no use: Turning a blind eye to depression will certainly not drive it away. People lose hope soon and tend to believe they are aware of the possible outcomes. But on the contrary, what might seem as a big challenge could just turn out to be a minor problem that can be overcome by talking to a close friend or a mental health professional.
Depression is a burden on society: Men often associate being mentally unstable as additional stress and burden on family and society. Unfortunately, some men are always ready to lend a helping hand to anyone in need, but fail to acknowledge their own need for help, especially when they need it the most.
Leading a depression-free life is possible
Depression can affect a man at any stage of his life. But it is a completely curable mental illness. Most of the people seeking treatment for depression respond positively to it and experience relief from their symptoms.