Seeking Help is Half the Battle for Men With Depression
Picture a person suffering from severe depression. Is the first image that pops into your mind that of a woman? Depression had long been thought of as condition found much more often among women than men, but most mental health practitioners now suspect that adult men experience serious depression about as much as their female counterparts. Unfortunately, men as a whole are probably just getting far less treatment for depression than women – and are paying a high emotional and physical price as a result.
It’s estimated that 6 million men in America suffer from clinical depression in a given year. While that number may be a little higher for women, the difference is certainly not enough to account for the fact that women are getting professional help for depression at twice the rate that men do. When it comes to gender-based differences regarding depression, the biggest difference of all might simply be a far greater reluctance among men to recognize or admit their need for help. Those men who don’t recognize signs and symptoms of depression, or who choose to ignore them, suffer in silence while experiencing a lower quality of life and a risk of earlier death – including a very real risk of dying by suicide, which accounts for three times as many deaths among men than women.
Because of gender roles and expectations imposed by our culture, certain depression symptoms tend to be more prominent in men. Depressed women and men can experience sadness, apathy, guilt, hopelessness, indecisiveness, feelings of worthlessness, sexual dysfunction and difficulty concentrating. But for men, other symptoms that seem more “masculine” may predominate – or may just be easier to admit to or acknowledge – such as:
- Anger or hostility
- Feelings of stress or anxiousness
- Fatigue and/or difficulty sleeping
- Recurring pain, particularly stomach pain or back pain
Depression is more prevalent in men who are not married, including divorced or widowed men. The incidence of suicide is much higher for unmarried men, too. Men who are unemployed or retired are also disproportionately affected by depression; in fact, an episode of depression in the first few months after retirement is quite common.
A Place of Hope for Depression offers a free online depression survey that can help you determine whether you have feelings, attitudes and behaviors that may indicate that you’re currently suffering from depression or are at risk for depression. Much more information about depression and options for treatment is also available at http://www.aplaceofhopefordepression.com/.
Treatment for depression that takes a “whole-person” approach is available at The Center for Counseling and Resources in Edmonds, WA. The Center was established in 1984 by Dr. Gregory Jantz as a residential treatment center offering help to men, women, teens and children dealing with serious life challenges including depression, eating disorders, addictions and emotional trauma. Dr. Jantz is an internationally respected counselor and author of many books, including Moving Beyond Depression, Happy for the Rest of Your Life, Becoming Strong Again and How to De-Stress Your Life.