Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in America. This mood disorder can cause one to go through long bouts of grief, low energy, sadness, and isolation. In the past half-century, there has been great improvement in the research and treatment of depression.
The hardest part about depression in these modern times is for people to be open to getting diagnosed and speaking about it to a professional.
Generally speaking, men have a harder time admitting they need to seek help and get honest with someone about what they are going through in order to see if it could be depression.
Men are less likely to receive mental health treatment than women, according to the AFSP, in 2019 men ended their own lives 3.63x as often as women. Let’s dive into the reasons why men with depression have much less success than women.
Many men have trouble opening up to others with how they truly feel or about their deepest insecurities. Why do they have trouble? A huge factor is the gender roles taught from generation to generation throughout mankind. Traditionally, a father teaches their son/sons how to ‘be a man.’ That can mean:
- Not crying
- ‘Toughening up’
- Never show weakness
- Emotional insensitivity
- Heterosexism (being gay/queer is bad)
- Not showing any emotion at all
Toxic masculinity is self-explanatory. But what makes this attitude toxic? The crux of the problem is it keeps men from admitting they are unhappy or sad. many men hold things in and don’t spill it out to anyone because they were raised ‘that’s not what a man does.’ The result is obvious in this context.
Thousands of men in this country each year are too fueled by false pride to admit their truth and get transparent with anyone. The only way out that they see is by ending their lives.
Thankfully there has been a lot more awareness brought to toxic masculinity and the problems that it causes in the past few years. Of course, many men still shoot down the concept of toxic masculinity and it’s mostly a result of how they were raised to be men.
Remember men, it is okay to cry, it is okay to ask for help, it is okay to not be okay and let a close friend or family member know. The simplest way to get some relief from your depression or other mental illness is to ask for help.
Once you have gotten honest with yourself and reflected that it may be possible that you are suffering from depression, it is imperative to schedule an appointment with a doctor that specializes in diagnosing depression, primarily a psychiatrist.
A psychiatrist is also a medical doctor who is trained to assess, diagnose, and treat mental health disorders like depression. Right now, more than ever, there are psychiatrists available by online appointment who can diagnose and prescribe treatment for depression. This is an amazing option that helps those who had the revelation they may be suffering from a mental illness locate help more expeditiously.
Even still, it may take a week or so to see a doctor. Think about someone you can confide in if you haven’t already. I truly believe every human on this planet needs at least one person they can confide and be transparent with.
Just speaking to someone and getting the mess in your head out into the universe and to another set of ears can do wonders for mental health. If there aren’t any people you can think of, there are many safe spaces online you can search for that allow you to be anonymous, share what you are going through and receive feedback from those who have been in your shoes before.
If you’re unsure what to look for just search for something like ‘depression discussion forums’ and have a look around. Discussion forums saved me big time when I was at my most isolated.
Getting the Ball Rolling
Opening up and being transparent with a psychiatrist is a massive first breakthrough. Of course, it’s just scratching the surface. Just like recovery from addiction and alcoholism, battling depression requires action and change.
Upon getting diagnosed by the doctor, most likely you will be prescribed medication, remember these key things:
- It is not a miracle pill, further action is required
- Any medication for depression takes time to be effective, usually a month or longer
- The medication works if you are consistent in taking it, find a time or day either recommended by the doctor or that works best for you and make it a habit to take the medicine every day at the same time
- Everybody is different, what worked for someone you know very well may not have the same effect on you. Stay positive, let your doctor know, and look at either increasing dosage or trying a different medication
- Side effects can happen, let your doctor know if you are experiencing something that feels off
As I stated above, medication is not a miracle pill. Along with medication, individual therapy is a tremendous idea for anyone who is truly suffering from depression. If opening up and speaking to someone about potentially having depression was tough and new to you, surely there is plenty more swept under the rug.
Therapists can not only have a professional look at your past and point out patterns and problematic behaviors/belief systems, but they can also help you look at your present and keep you accountable to making the changes you truly want in your life.
Building off the Foundation
Many of you reading this are most likely in recovery. Attacking addiction and a mental illness like depression are very similar. The initial start may be a little different, but once you have gotten the right start, you build on it every day.
For depression, medication and therapy is the solid floor of your foundation. Without them early on, anything you build can collapse at any time. As men, stay aware of your mood, and when you get into a funk, no matter what it is about, reminds yourself you need to talk to someone about it. Nothing ever gets solved just bouncing around in your mind.
Toxic masculinity is a perfect topic to bring to a therapist, challenging anything you have believed or thought before is great to bring to a therapist. You’re allowed to be completely open and honest with another human being. You do not have to stuff things deep down just because you’re supposed to be a man. Internalize and practice that and you will find new freedom.