Are you tired and irritable all the time? Have you lost interest in your work, family, or hobbies? Are you having trouble sleeping and feeling angry or aggressive, sad, or worthless? Have you been feeling like this for weeks or months? If so, you may have depression.
What is depression?
Everyone feels sad or irritable sometimes, or has trouble sleeping occasionally. But these feelings and troubles usually pass after a couple of days. When a man has depression, he has trouble with daily life and loses interest
in anything for weeks at a time. Both men and women get depression. But men can experience it differently than women. Men may be more likely to feel very tired and irritable, and lose interest in their work, family, or hobbies. They may be more likely to have difficulty sleeping than women who have depression.
And although women with depression are more likely to attempt suicide, men are more likely to die by suicide. Many men do not recognize, acknowledge, or seek help for their depression. They may be reluctant to talk about how they are feeling. But depression is a real and treatable illness. It can affect any man at any age. With the right treatment, most men with depression can get better and gain back their interest in work, family, and hobbies.
What are the different forms of depression? The most common types of depression are:
Major depression—severe symptoms that interfere with a man’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy most aspects of life. An episode of major depression may occur only once in a person’s lifetime. But more often, a person can have several episodes.
Persistent depressive disorder—depressed mood that lasts for at least 2 years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for 2 years.
What are the signs and symptoms of depression in men? Different people have different symptoms. Some symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling sad or “empty”
- Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or angry
- Loss of interest in work, family, or once-pleasurable activities, including sex
- Feeling very tired
- Not being able to concentrate or remember details
- Not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
- Overeating, or not wanting to eat at all
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
- Inability to meet the responsibilities of work, caring for family, or other important activities.
What causes depression? Different kinds of factors play a role in the risk of depression. Depression tends to run in families. One of the reasons for this has to do with genes. Some genes increase the risk of depression. Others increase resilience—the ability to recover from hardship—and protect against depression. Experiences such as trauma or abuse during childhood and stress during adulthood can raise risk. However, the same stresses or losses may trigger depression in one person and not another. Factors such as a warm family and healthy social connections can increase resilience. Research has shown that in people with depression, there can be subtle changes in the brain systems involved in mood, energy, and thinking and how the brain responds
to stress. The changes may differ from person to person, so that a treatment that works for one person may not work for another.
How is depression treated?
The first step to getting the right treatment is to visit a doctor or mental health professional, counsellor – psychotherapist. He or she can do an exam or lab tests to rule out other conditions that may have the same symptoms as depression. He or she can also tell if certain medications you are taking may be affecting your mood. The doctor needs to get a complete history of symptoms. Tell the doctor when the symptoms started, how long they have lasted, how bad they are, whether they have occurred before, and if so, how they were treated. Tell the doctor if there is a history of depression in your family.
Medications called antidepressants can work well to treat depression. They can take several weeks to work. Antidepressants can have side effects including:
- Nausea, feeling sick to your stomach
- Difficulty sleeping and nervousness
- Agitation or restlessness
- Sexual problems.
Most side effects lessen over time. Talk to your doctor about any side effects you may have. It’s important to know that although antidepressants can be safe and effective for many people, they may present serious risks to some, especially children, teens, and young adults. Anyone taking antidepressants should be monitored closely, especially when they first start taking them.
For most people, though, the risks of untreated depression far outweigh those of antidepressant medications when they are used under a doctor’s supervision. Careful monitoring by a professional will also minimize any potential risks.
Several types of therapy can help treat depression. Some therapies are just as effective as medications for certain types of depression. Therapy helps by
teaching new ways of thinking and behaving, and changing habits that may be contributing to the depression. Therapy can also help men understand and work through difficult situations or relationships that may be causing their depression or making it worse. Researchers are developing new ways to treat depression more quickly and effectively. For more information contact Esther van der Sande
How can I help a loved one who is depressed? If you know someone who has depression, first help him find a doctor or mental health professional and make an appointment. Offer him support, understanding, patience, and encouragement. Talk to him, and listen carefully. Never ignore comments about suicide, and report hem to his therapist or doctor. Invite him out for walks, outings and other activities. If he says no, keep trying, but don’t push him to take on too much too soon. Encourage him to report any concerns about medications to his health care provider. Ensure that he gets to his doctor’s appointments.
Remind him that with time and treatment, the depression will lift.
How can I help myself if I am depressed? As you continue treatment, gradually you will start to feel better. Remember that if you are taking an antidepressant, it may take several weeks for it to start working. Try to do things that you used to enjoy before you had depression. Go easy on yourself. Other things that may help include: See a professional as soon as possible. Research hows that getting treatment sooner rather than later can relieve symptoms quicker and reduce the length of time treatment is needed. Break up large tasks into small ones, and do what you can as you can. Don’t try to do too many things at once.
Spend time with other people and talk to a friend or relative about your feelings.
Do not make important decisions until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well.
Where can I go for help? If you are unsure where to go for help, ask your family doctor. You can also check the phone book for mental health professionals / counsellors and psychotherapist or check with your insurance carrier to find someone who participates in your plan. Hospital doctors can help in an emergency. Men with depression are at risk for suicide. If you or someone you know is in crisis, get help quickly.
Call your doctor.
Call Life Line at 13 11 14 (For 24 hour crisis support)
Source: National Institute of Mental Health