Life is full of ups and downs. It’s normal to feel sadness, loneliness, or grief and feel down from time to time. Going through difficult life experiences is part of being human.
Most of the time we continue to function and our emotional resilience will enable us to bounce back.
Depression is different than just having an ‘off day’
When emotional, physical or behavioural experiences become excessive, interfere with normal routines like work, sleep or leisure, and continue on most days for 2 weeks or more then we are entering into the territory of depression.
Some examples of symptoms that need attention are:
- Weight loss/gain
- Sleep disturbance
- Lack of energy and/or enthusiasm
- Frequent headaches
- Lack of appetite
- Lose interest in friends and activities
- Drinking alcohol more than normal
- Withdraw from close family
- Compulsively work long hours
- Have difficulty concentrating
Depression is more common than people realise.
According to Beyond Blue 1 in 6 Australians in their lifetime will have depression. For blokes, 1 in 8 men in their lifetime will experience depression.
The extreme end of depression for men
The current data suggests Australia’s suicide rate has actually dropped. However, men are still 4 times more likely than women to kill themselves, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The following statistics make for confronting reading:
- Approximately 80% of all suicides in Australia are men.
- Suicide is the cause of death with the highest gender disparity. There are 333 male deaths for every 100 female deaths.
- Suicide is the number one killer of men under 44 years
- The highest death rate for men in 2010 was observed in the 35 to 49 years age group
Suicide ranks second to heart disease in its contribution to potential years of life lost by Australian males (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2010).
The reasons for depression in men
Most of the time it’s a combination of factors over a prolonged period of time that has a major impact on a man’s mental health.
There are many issues that may trigger depression:
- Stress at work
- Relationship difficulties
- Losing or changing job,
- Death of a loved one,
- Serious health problem
- Injury, disease, disability,
- Family care of children, spouse
- Ageing parents.
- Family of origin history of depression.
- Financial stress
- Legal issues
- Drug and alcohol use
In general men are far less adept at recognising their triggers and symptoms than women.
A man is more likely to:
- Deny his feelings, hide them from himself and others
- Try to mask them with other behaviours.
It’s vital that men begin to recognise their own signs,
The Common Signs of Depression in Men
Men tend to have common symptoms that may indicate depression.
Sometimes depression in men shows up as physical symptoms that don’t respond to regular treatment. Physical symptoms are easier to recognise such as:
- Constant Backache
- Frequent headaches
- Ongoing sleep problems
- Sexual dysfunction
- Digestive disorders
There could be a range of experiences including:
- Sensitivity to criticism
- A loss of sense of humor
- Road rage
- A short temper
Some men become
- Verbally or physically abusive to wives, children, or other loved ones.
A man suffering from depression may start exhibiting escapist or risky behavior. This could mean pursuing dangerous sports, driving recklessly, or engaging in unsafe sex. You might drink too much, abuse drugs, or gamble compulsively.
Help is never far away. Whether it’s talking to a friend, partner, family member, local doctor or therapist, men can and do recover and thrive beyond depression.