Build a Support Team

Fighting depression requires a team approach.

As men, we often feel we should be able to handle whatever life throws at us on our own, but some problems are best dealt with as a team. Recovering from depression becomes much easier – and more effective – when we bring other people to our side.

When we’re struggling with symptoms like depressed mood, lack of concentration, and low energy, talking with someone may seem like the last thing we want to do, but we have to resist the urge to pull away and isolate ourselves.

With depression we often get stuck ruminating on negative thoughts, but simply reaching out and talking about how we are doing can often break this cycle. Being able to share our challenges with others can take a huge weight off our shoulders and reduce the intensity of the feelings we have.

The people we reach out to are often glad we trusted them to open up. It also sets an example for others that it’s ok to reach out when struggling, so we can all better support each other.

There are several options for reaching out, and the more ways we can, the better.

When to Reach out

  • When we are feeling sad, empty, or hopeless much of the time.
  • When our behavior (e.g., isolating ourselves) is affecting our relationships.
  • When we’re not sleeping well and fatigue is affecting our ability to function.
  • When we’ve lost interest in the things that used to give us a sense of joy, pleasure, or motivation.
  • When we’ve lost our appetite and aren’t eating much anymore (or have begun over-eating).
  • When we can’t seem to concentrate on things.
  • When we often feel worthless, not good enough, or guilty.
  • When we have thoughts that we – or those around us – would be better off if we weren’t around anymore.

Common Stumbling Blocks

Think of fighting depression like rowing a boat – we may be able to manage to row ourselves to shore solo, but it would take a long time and leave us exhausted, or it may prove too difficult. Rowing with a team will get us to our destination much more quickly and efficiently.

Not feeling like we’re worth the trouble

The people who we are close with care about us, and will want to help support us in our recovery.

Wanting to figure it out on our own

There is no need for us to struggle through pain on our own. Consulting others for guidance is taking control of our health.

Shame and worry about what others will think of us

Reaching out is a sign of strength and the people close to us will recognize this.

Guides to Building a Support Team

There are several options for reaching out, and the more ways we can, the better.

Friends and Family

Humans are social creatures, and social connection is an important factor in maintaining our mental and physical health.

Opening up to family and friends lets them know what we’re going through, helping them understand our behaviour so they can better support us. Friends can usually tell when something is going on, and may be waiting for us to give them permission to help or to let them know how best to do so.

Many men fear that talking about depression will place an emotional burden on others. However, this is rarely the case. Those close to us often know that we’re struggling and want to help. Reaching out shows trust in another, which people appreciate, and often leads to your relationship with them becoming stronger. Starting a conversation with friends and family also offers them an opportunity to share their experiences as well.

Family Doctors

The most straightforward and immediate way to seek professional support is by consulting a family doctor. A family doctor can:

  • Evaluate symptoms and contributing factors (and rule out other possible medical causes for your symptoms)
  • Discuss and help us navigate available treatment options
  • Refer us to more specialized mental health professionals 

If you haven’t spoken to a doctor about your mental health before, it can be confusing to know where to start. To learn what to expect and get ideas about what to ask, see our Guide to Consulting a Doctor.

Mental Health Professionals

Depression is a serious illness, so we want to get help from qualified professionals.

Mental health professionals are people with the skills and training to support us in our recovery from depression. They can help us better understand ourselves, and develop new skills to more effectively manage our health and live well.

There are a variety of mental health professionals we may come across.

This guide provides an overview of who’s who, with information on therapists, counsellors, psychiatrists, psychologists, etc. and how to access them.

Treatment Options

Getting treatment for depression can be a confusing process as there are lots of people out there promoting products and lifestyle strategies to fight depression – but not all of these people are trained in mental health, and many products or supposed treatments haven’t been well-researched and tested.

This guide provides an overview of treatment options including therapy, medication, self-help strategies, and other complementary and alternative approaches. We’ve done the research so you don’t have to.

Need Support in a Crisis?

Dealing with depression can be an overwhelming experience and it’s common to lose hope or stop believing in recovery. Depression can make us think and act in ways we normally wouldn’t.

If we’re no longer able to care for ourselves, are thinking of hurting ourselves, or hurting someone else – it’s critical to reach out and get support as soon as possible.

This guide will help us decide who best to reach out to and how to get the support we need in times of crisis.

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