Cover the Problem
Because men with depression continue to be stigmatized by society and themselves, they are more likely to resort to negative coping skills to suppress the symptoms or act is if they are not present at all. For some, they can maintain a tentative balance and an ability to function throughout the days and weeks. These behaviors only return to create more problems, though, as negative coping skills add more problems to the overall picture. Negative coping skills of men with depression include:
- Alcohol and other drug use. If you don’t like your feelings, cover them up. This is the distorted thought process of a man with depression. Remember, men with depression are not thinking about solving the problem long-term. At this point, their only focus is getting through the day. Alcohol and other drugs work to numb the unwanted feelings and provide temporary euphoric feelings. Alcohol, for example, is actually a depressant so the self-medicating man with depression will feel worse in the days following consumption.
- Not all addiction and addictive behaviors revolve around drugs. Gambling is an addictive process that many men with depression find appealing. Gambling helps to distract the person with depression as it changes the focus away from himself. The highs gained from a win will block out all feelings of depression. Of course, the losses will only reinforce the thoughts and feelings associated with depression. Despite the inherent risks associated with gambling, men with depression still prefer the highs and lows to the strict lows of depression.
- The most negative coping skills are focused on escape or avoidance. TV exemplifies both. Whether it is becoming engrossed in a sport or mindlessly scrolling through the on-screen guide, TV can distract from the world of depression. It also distracts from the rest of the world. Men with depression that seek out these negative coping skills will let work, family and friends go neglected to focus on avoidance.
Beating the Barriers
How do you fight back against the barriers of being a man with depression? Simple. Admit it. Admit it to yourself and then admit it to the people around you. Changes in society must come from the inside out not the outside in. As a male with depression, you become the best advocate. You become the tool to help yourself and other men with depression.
Denying your situation is living a lie that furthers your depression. If you cannot gain acceptance, your life will worsen with your symptoms. As importantly, the people in your life will suffer as their son, husband, dad or friend continues in a world of depression. Note that finding acceptance does not mean that you like depression. It only indicates that you are aware of it and the negative impact it has on your life.
After the admission, the treatment plan becomes clear. People with depression respond very well to a combination of medication and psychotherapy. The medication will help relieve your symptoms. The therapy can encourage new ways of thinking and acting to improve your life.
One of the best treatments for depression is one that actually fits with male stereotypes: exercise. Exercise has a huge antidepressant effect that will be a great outlet for your built up anger and irritability. It will reduce your stress making other facets of your life easier to address and manage.
Stepping outside of the stereotypes is challenging. Now that you know how you are feeling is depression and what barriers are in place, take the measures to break through to the other side. Do it not only for you but for the others in your life and those that will follow. Every movement needs a leader. Could it be you?