According to the American Psychological Association, about 30% of men have suffered a period of depression in their lives, and an even more startling fact is that men are four times more likely to commit suicide. It is clear that depression is a mental illness that affects many men, and yet many times there is still a lack of awareness.
Depression is a medical syndrome that makes living your day-to-day life difficult and affects the way you think, the way you feel, and the way you act. Everybody experiences depression differently, but for men in particular, the symptoms often differ compared to women.
What might some men not be aware of when it comes to depression?
Although 1 in 4 men who have depression speak to a professional, many men are reluctant to discuss their depression because they see it as a sign of weakness. Men also have concerns that openly discussing their depression will result in consequences in their work and personal life. However, not seeking out help delays their diagnosis and treatment, which can make recovery even harder later on. Depression can also make any related existing physical symptoms worse.
What are some common triggers for men and depression?
Depression can be triggered through a combination of factors including genetics, personality features, and their environment. Many clinicians such as myself often find that stressful life events are common triggers of depression. Further, problems like financial strain or alcohol abuse can worsen or perpetuate depression for men, as well as the perception of a lack of support.
What are the early warning signs of depression?
Depression is different for everybody, but some signs include: irritability towards things that didn’t bother them in the past, an increase in alcohol consumption, and withdrawal from social networks and friends.
What is a first step in addressing depression?
A great first step is to have an open discussion with a health care provider or someone you trust. It could be your physician, a psychologist, or a friend that you feel will listen to you without judgment. When you speak to your healthcare provider, they can help rule out any potential underlying medical reasons like thyroid issues or medications you may be taking. After that, when you speak to a psychologist or psychiatrist, they can discuss a treatment plan for you that could include therapy, medication, or both.
Is there anything that can be done to address depression before it starts?
Unfortunately, there is no sure way to prevent depression. However, there are strategies that could help you feel better in your day-to-day life. Some of these strategies include:
- Practice mindfulness like meditation, yoga, or journaling
- Have a healthy diet that includes a lot of vegetables and lean protein
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day
- Regular cardiovascular exercise
- Lean on your social circle such as family, friends, or coworkers
- Do not be afraid to get early treatment. Remember, the earlier the better
About the author
Dr. Sagar Vijapura is a Doctor On Demand Harvard-trained, board-certified psychiatrist with expertise in treating most common mental health including major depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, ADHD, and addictions. He believes in tailoring a recovery-focused treatment plan for each patient, with the goal of achieving their personal goals. Dr. Vijapura completed his psychiatric residency training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, an affiliate hospital of Harvard Medical School. Dr. Vijapura provides psychiatric and addictions services at Vijapura Behavioral Health, his psychiatric group practice in Jacksonville, FL. He is a certified ADHD evaluator for the National Football League, and enjoys working with professional athletes.