As featured in The Country Web Number 59 Spring 2013 edition.
A lot of men can think that depression and anxiety are signs of personal weaknesses but they are serious medical disorders just like heart disease or gout. They can darken your thoughts, undermine your personal and professional life, and place you at increased risk of other illness.
Depression affects people of all ages and backgrounds with 25 per cent of the population suffering some form of depression at some time in their lives.
Each year, depression will affect one in eight Australian men and anxiety affects one in five men. But these numbers may not tell the whole truth as a great deal of male depression goes undiagnosed.
Men are different from women who more readily seek out help and support for these conditions. Most men tend to not want to talk to someone or seek out appropriate treatment and may turn to alcohol and drugs or other ways of coping when they are in a depressed or anxious state of mind.
Men can overvalue independence and self-control and they can wrongly believe that it’s unmanly to express pain, weakness, uncertainty, helplessness and sadness. They think that if they can’t deal with these difficult emotions that they are somewhat less of a man.
Nothing could be further from the truth however as many men exhibit strength and grit by dealing effectively with depression and leading productive and rewarding lives—but these are the ones who do something about it. Often men feel more threatened than women do by rapid social,political and economic change.
When such change affects traditional male roles in the home and workplace, men may experience a profound loss of identity, status and dignity, which increases their risk of depression or anxiety.
If you suspect you have depression, talk to someone about it—partner, friends, family, counsellor or the doctor. Some medical conditions such as a viral infection, thyroid disorder and low testosterone levels can produce symptoms similar to depression so it’s good to check out that these are not the cause of your symptoms. It’s important to remember there are many things you can do apart from or alongside taking medication, like talking strategies, and new exercise, diet and lifestyle changes.
The simple message is don’t go it alone, talk to someone about the way you are feeling or visit the beyondblue website: http://www.beyondblue.org.au/