ORLANDO, Fla. - According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, statistics show that men become depressed much less often than women do. But experts worry these figures don’t tell the whole story, because men are much less likely to report depression. So how do you figure out if a man is suffering, and better yet how can you help?
What is depression?
Richard Weiner, Professor of Psychiatry at Duke University told Ivanhoe, “Where the individual feels bad all of the time. Morning, noon and night for a period of weeks to months to occasionally years and there is no relief for them.”
It’s important to realize that while women internalize depression and focus on the emotional symptoms, men externalize it. Often they downplay the signs and symptoms, and resist treatment because of the stigma that might come with depression. They may spend a lot of time at work, or abuse drugs or alcohol.
So how can you help? Experts say to speak carefully. Don’t be critical, and don’t express concern. That may suggest you don’t think he can handle it on his own. And ditch the word depression. Encourage him to seek help for the symptoms he may be feeling related to it, like stress or insomnia.
“Everybody gets quote depressed if something bad happens to them. But the illness that we’re talking about is a pervasive illness.” Weiner explained.
You should also ask if he has experienced thoughts of self-harm, because men suffering from depression are four times more likely to commit suicide than women, as they tend to use more lethal means. If he has a gun, offer to hold on to it for him until he feels better.
Most importantly, encourage him to do what he does well. Activities that he excels at can give him feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment. And overall, express your limits and don’t give up. Let him know that you are there for him, but if it’s too much for you, he also needs to seek additional help.
For men suffering from depression, experts at the Mayo Clinic suggest setting small goals, delaying important decisions, and living a healthy lifestyle are all good coping skills. It’s important to lower stress and focus on your day-to-day routine.
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