Depression is an ugly disease. It can turn the most fun-loving, outgoing person into a sad, isolated shadow of their former self. And it’s even worse when it affects a man. I’m not saying women don’t suffer horribly when afflicted with depression — they definitely do — but men tend to suffer through their inner demons alone, trying to “man up” and beat depression by themselves rather than seeking the help they need and deserve. Unfortunately, leaving depression untreated can end up exacerbating the issue, and may lead to further tragedy. Here are some things you should understand.
1. Men are definitely affected by depression
Statistics show that over 6 million people in America suffer from depression each year. While that might seem like a small percentage of the 200+ million men living in the US, remember that depression in men often goes untreated, undiagnosed, and unreported for a variety of reasons — from social stigma to a lack of time, money, and other resources to actually get to a therapist. Just because the disease goes unreported doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
2. Depression isn’t the same for everyone
When you picture a person suffering from depression, you most likely imagine someone laying on their couch in their PJs, having not showered in days, with a box of tissues next to them. While this may be the case for some, the symptoms of depression vary drastically. While depression in men might not cause them to break down into tears, it will probably manifest in anger, anxiety, and irritability. Men who suffer from depression are also more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as binge drinking, drug use, and promiscuity — stemming from the fact that they don’t care whether or not they’re harming their bodies and lives.
3. Being depressed doesn’t mean you’re weak
As I alluded to before, depression in men often goes untreated because of certain social stigma. Even the manliest of men can be afflicted by this debilitating disease, but their personality will block them from recognizing the signs and acknowledging that they need help. On the contrary, it’s those who are able to admit they need to seek professional help who are the most courageous, as they’re able to overcome the embarrassment of admitting they need help to improve their lives.
4. Depression shouldn’t be managed on your own
Depression unfortunately isn’t seen as a disease or illness by the vast majority of people — it’s seen as a sort of stage of sadness that will eventually go away in time. But depression will never simply go away. Thinking it will is akin to thinking cancer will just go away without treatment, or a broken leg will heal if you just walk it off. And just like these other much more obvious ailments, depression will only get worse if left untreated. You might think you’re doing yourself a favor by sweeping your problems under the rug and pretending everything is totally fine, but you’re only bottling things up until the one day all your problems come bubbling to the top.
5. Depression can affect anyone
I mentioned this before, but it needs to be repeated: depression can affect anyone, at any time. And this is why it goes so underreported in today’s society. A person with a great job, beautiful family, and gigantic house can’t possibly suffer from depression, right? Wrong. When depression takes hold of a person, it blinds them from everything going well in his life, and magnifies the negative. Even rich and famous people can find themselves in the clutches of depression: Owen Wilson and the late Heath Ledger are two who come immediately to mind. The most important thing to understand about depression is it has nothing to do with the person’s accomplishments or lifestyle — it’s all about brain chemistry.
Featured photo credit: Depression / ryan melaugh via farm8.staticflickr.com