Helping Men Handle Depression
At Live Life Get Active, we know how much depression can affect any individual, regardless of gender. However, as it’s Men’s Health Week, we want to talk about depression in men, and how difficult getting help can be. If you know of someone suffering from depression, don’t let them keep feeling alone. There is so much you can do to help.
Let’s Talk About Men’s Depression.
Depression affects us all at some point in our lives – feeling down, tired or stressed is, unfortunately, a part of living as a thinking, feeling person. However, many men feel as if it isn’t socially acceptable to talk about how they are feeling, and this can be very damaging to the individual and the people around them. We want to let these men know that it is ok to talk about their feelings.
Here are the facts.
- 1 in 8 men suffer from depression
- Major depression is characterised by low mood and a loss of interest and pleasure in normal activities for at least 2 weeks
- There are other types of depression to recognise, such as bipolar disorder (feelings of intense ‘mania’ countered with feelings of depression and sadness), psychotic depression (hallucinations and paranoia) and seasonal affective disorder (changing moods because of the changing seasons).
- Just like a broken bone, leaving depression and ignoring the problem does not make it go away – it is impossible to ‘snap out of’.
- If left untreated, it can result in self-harm and devastatingly, suicide.
- On top of the traditional feelings of loneliness and depression, men, in particular, can suffer from substance abuse, feelings of anger or erectile dysfunction.
How to Notice if Someone is Suffering from Depression
- Sustained feelings of hopelessness, loneliness and an overall lack of interest or enjoyment
- Not going out or participating in activities they used to enjoy.
- Men especially will suffer physically, and this can include back pain, tiredness, unexplained weight loss, headaches, sexual issues and difficulty sleeping.
- Getting more angry than usual and losing their sense of humour
- Increased levels of alcohol or drug abuse.
- Being distracted and not getting things done at school or work
- Using negative language like “I can’t”, “its hopeless” or “I’m a failure”
- Feeling overwhelmed, disappointed, irritated, lacking in confidence or guilty
What You Can do to Help.
For many affected men, they feel they have nobody to turn to or to talk to about these problems. Being there as a significant other, engaging in frank discussions about emotions and setting up a strong support network is key to reducing the impact of depression. Remember, no one should feel like these people do, and you can help to see them through their loneliness. This can come in many forms. Encouraging the individual to reach out to other support networks like Beyondblue, to check up on a friend and to participate in activities that they previously enjoyed are all great ways to break down this isolation barrier and make them feel less lonely. However, we don’t expect you to do this alone. Having other professionals such as therapists or GPs provides a varied and stronger support group, and can lessen your own individual burden of trying to help the depressed person.
Changing Lifestyles – For the Better.
Depression can also come about through negative changes in lifestyle, where many men can sink further into depression due to poor eating, not exercising or having daily stressors that all affect mood and self-worth. As well as a strong support network, a concerned individual (whether it be family member, friend or significant other) can help change poor lifestyle habits and create a positive routine for the depressed. These include, but are not limited to:
- Getting at least 8 hours sleep
- Employing proper relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, yoga or extended periods of walking or running (‘muscular meditation’)
- Making sure the individual is outside as much as they can, especially in sunlight.
- Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day. Having a dog as an exercise companion, or another person as a walking or exercise partner also helps with loneliness and isolation.
- Encouraging variety and new activities.
- Keeping stress levels in check (exercise is great for this)
- Having a healthy diet, avoiding smoking and excess alcohol consumption and getting a balance of nutrient rich foods.
How Live Life Get Active Can help
With a combination of these changes, many people can positively improve their mood and get on top of their depression. At Live Life Get Active we offer many free services in the local parklands to encourage physical activity participation such as yoga or circuit classes, but there are many excellent organisations that can help break through a depressed individual.
Book a FREE 45-minute session today, register here!
Many men find it very tough to talk about their feelings, and groups such as Beyondblue and the Black Dog Institute are available at all times to help. If you know of someone who may be depressed or thinking about suicide, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.