Depression is real
Depression is no less real than any other health issue, like diabetes or high blood pressure. It’s not in our heads and it doesn’t mean we are weak – it’s a very real illness that affects many aspects of our lives (mood, energy, strength, relationships, concentration) and is experienced by millions of people from all ages, backgrounds, and circumstances.
Just as a broken bone can cause physical pain and limit our ability to move and function, depression can cause emotional pain and make it hard for us to engage in daily activities and fully enjoy life. Unfortunately, while no one would hesitate to seek help for a broken bone, many still hesitate to seek support for their mental health.
This is often because some men:
- Equate depression with weakness
- Don’t recognize what they’re experiencing as depressive symptoms
- Don’t think they need anyone else’s help, that they are beyond being helped, or don’t deserve to be helped
- Think ‘real men’ need to sort through problems on their own
Another factor that gets in the way of men taking action to treat depression is the negative thinking that comes with depression, causing us to be overly pessimistic about our ability to heal and recover. Depression can really mess with our thoughts and it can interfere with our ability to experience positive emotions and hope.
Thankfully, we know recovery is possible (even when we feel despair and hopelessness) – there are many effective steps and options for treating depression.
Depression can look different in men
In addition to the typical symptoms of depression, some men also experience other symptoms that are associated with what some researchers refer to as “male type” depression. These symptoms include:
- Irritability and aggression
- Physical pain
- Risk taking/recklessness
- Substance (alcohol, drugs) misuse
These symptoms can make it harder for us (as well as health professionals) to recognize depression in ourselves or others. But these are signs that something more serious may be going on, so it’s important not to ignore them.
The myths stop here
There are many misconceptions about depression that make it difficult for men to seek support and take charge of their health.
Some men mistakenly associate having depression with weakness, or reaching out with failure, which is perpetuated by the myths listed below. Click the boxes to see the reality that debunks these myths.
These myths can feel like handcuffs, preventing men from reaching out for support until their depression is very severe, if at all. This places men at increased risk of taking their own lives. In fact, men account for 75-80% of deaths that occur by suicide, [1, 2, 3] with untreated depression being a leading risk factor. [4, 5]
It’s okay to talk about depression
Fortunately, more men (including famous athletes, celebrities, and musicians) are ‘going public’ about fighting depression and how they have taken back control of their health. These men are helping to break the stigma and pushing for society to recognize that depression is a common and serious issue, and that resources and support should be available for those who need it.
The myths are finally breaking down around men’s mental health, freeing guys to talk about and tackle depression. This will continue to get easier as more men step up and show that depression is not something that defines or controls our lives.
Preventing and managing depression
Ignoring or hiding the pain of depression won’t make it go away. This can instead lead to depression getting worse and making it more difficult to reach out and get the help we need.
Fighting depression starts with recognizing there is an issue, then making important changes in our lives to overcome it. Many men are often aware that something in their life isn’t quite right, but don’t know where to start or don’t believe recovery is possible. We need to shift our mindset and trust in the experience of others to know that recovery is possible.
With the right support system in place, we can take control of our health and lives.
HeadsUpGuys is here to support and guide you on this journey, by providing guidance, resources, and proven strategies, such as:
It takes courage, it takes strength, and it takes work, but depression can be beat – you are worth the effort.