Man and Depression
Man and Depression - Giving You Everything You Need to Understand Depression in Men
Man and depression is quite a different animal than the ordinary depression one normally thinks of. A man may have all the symptoms of depression I've listed in my article on major depression, however, he may also have no outward symptoms reflecting the official criteria for depression but can be severely depressed nonetheless.
In my own experience of man and depression I am aware of my own struggle with depression beginning at age 7. I can look back and clearly see signs and symptoms beginning at that age. Unfortunately, I was 24 years old before the idea itself was ever put into my head. You heard that right, it was put into my head by my wife, Christine. At the time I was appalled. Depression in man no exist for me (cave talk) ;-) It was simply not a possibility because men do not get depressed, right? Man and depression - those two words don't go together, do they?
Man and depression have co-existed ever since man came into existence... well... maybe not right away, but very soon after. I've facilitated men's therapy groups for over 12 years, witnessing how man and depression are tightly intertwined.. That, alongside my personal battle, has taught me a great deal about man and depression. I hope to shed some light on this for you men out there reading this who've wondered about this from time-to-time, as well as for you women who've been stymied, blamed and already know and simply need affirmed. Women, you're not crazy. Man and depression is simply more elusive, harder to catch, if you will. Once you've figured out your man and depression have a strong relationship, the next part of bringing it to his attention is at least as challenging as recognizing what's going on in the first place.
What makes it so difficult for gentleman to realize depression in men is incredibly prevalent today? Here's an analogy. Women are trained from a very early age that they have the potential to give birth to babies. Men never consider the idea, except inside a wacky movie, that they could give birth to babies. It's simply a non-possibility. Man and depression is simply a non-possibility for most men. But there's hope... Everyone once believed the world was flat too!
One of my favorite marital therapy mentors is John Gottman. He has done extensive research in this area and I've drank in all the books he's written. One of his pieces that is important to this discussion of man and depression are men's general unwillingness to accept influence. Shoot, we've all joked about how male pride stops men from asking for directions when they're lost, right? Willingness to accept influence isn't just one of the key factors for a successful marriage, it's also important in being able to recognize that depression in man, and specifically in YOU, may exist!
Once the possibility of man and depression has been cross-linked inside of the mind a a depressed male, you now have the challenge of judgment to deal with. Men often judge others who struggle with depression as weak. Or, even if they accept and support someone who's depressed, they will not afford themselves the same love and acceptance. This is a real stopper. Some men, realizing they are a man and depression is permeating their life will live in isolation for years. That man might think, "I can do this on my own. No one must know about this or... If I were only strong enough... If my marriage were only better... If I had the right job..." Any of this sounding familiar?
There is stigma in general around being depressed, no matter your gender but you can triple that for the man and depression sufferer. Depression in men who even recognize and seek treatment for it, often sabotage themselves by stopping medication too early and they stop using the life skills they were taught to battle depression. Man and depression have a long way to go.
A man and depression looks different too. Man and depression tend to exhibit more anger and agitated mood states. Compared to women, who will generally internalize depression, men externalize depression. They do this in several ways. They may complain more of physical aches and pains, be sicker more or whiny when there's no real physical cause for the complaint. A man and depression may blame his marriage instead of looking at depression as the primary problem. Marital concerns arise after depression in men has been around for a while, and certainly this can happen in reverse too. The key is in discerning which came first, but regardless of that answer, depression in men should be recognized, accepted and attended to appropriately.
If you are a man and depression is present in your life it is important to remember that depression in men, when recognized and depression treatment is sought, get well and live normal, happy lives.
Let me know how I can be of service to you, either to you loved ones who need help in getting through to your spouse or to you depressed men who are reading this right now.
Best wishes for overcoming depression in your lives!
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