DEPRESSION IN MEN

As A. Dean Byrd tells us in Chapter 13, the shortest sentence in the bible, John 11:35, tell us that “Jesus Wept.” This is one of the most powerful messages to men that it is okay to cry. Even the most perfect man in all of history wept. Dr. Byrd tells us that weeping carries with it a powerful emotional response associated with loss, grief, trauma, and profound sadness.

Many men feel is it a weakness to admit feelings of depression, when in reality, depression is no respecter of persons, and can strike anyone regardless of age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Men are socialized for independence, self-reliance, and control. While these are good traits to possess, like anything else, when taken to extremes become detrimental to the individual. There is a perception with many men who fear emotional struggles like depression, because of the belief that these kind of struggles are part of who they are, thus affecting their core sense of worth.  Asking for help tends to attack the     societal view that men should be tough, particularly physically and emotionally. Another perspective may be associated with fear of losing control or power, and may be seen as a sign of weakness.

Men are less likely to talk about their feelings of depression, they seek other outlets to make themselves feel better, such as alcohol, drugs, pornography, long hours at the office, or involvement in activities outside the home. These, like any addictive behavior, provide temporary relief, but in the long term they make matters worse and actually contribute to the worsening and the deepening of depression. Researchers have demonstrated that trouble in marriage is the most common single problem connected with depression.

The following are common characteristics associated with men and depression:
– Men with depression feel less positive about their bodies.
– Men who are depressed feel less satisfied with intimate relationships.
– Depression keeps men from full participation and enjoyment in life’s activities, including those that protect marriage and family relationships.

The following are common characteristics of ‘Masked’ Depression in Men:
– Alcohol abuse
– Reckless behavior
– Anger
– Interpersonal conflicts
– Obsessive compulsive traits
– Physical complaints

Other factors:
– Men are less likely than women to show signs of depression following a traumatic loss. In studies comparing grief response of widows and widowers, men were significantly more depressed than their female counterparts after two to four years.

– Bereaved men are more likely to be diagnosed with alcoholism rather than depression.

– Bereaved men are more likely to be diagnosed with a serious physical illness, commit suicide, and die prematurely than bereaved women.

– For some men, depression makes them more vulnerable to committing acts of interpersonal violence. This may be one of the few acceptable forms of emotional release for men.

– Aggressive activities like sports, is not only acceptable, but encouraged in our society.

– In the clinical setting, it is being found more and more that men who are violent with family members are masking an underlying depression.

– Mood altering drugs may be masking depression – helping to temporarily calm feelings of impotence, anger, and self-reproach brought on my trauma or loss, but these create an illusion of regaining control and power in their emotional lives. This may be a means to cope, however, will often lead to a more severe episode of depression when one is not engaged in the addictive behavior.

– With little social tolerance for strong emotional expression of trauma, loss, and grief, men may express their feelings by turning to addictive behaviors and expressions of control and anger usually found in domestic violence.

HOPE AND HELP
Treatment provides help.
1. Have a physical examination
– Sometimes thyroid problems, viral infections, low testosterone levels can cause depressive symptoms.

2. Find a mental health counselor
– Research shows the most effective means for moderate to severe depression is a combination of medication and psychotherapy. For more mild forms, psychotherapy seems sufficient.                                                                                                                                       – Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness

3. Engage in Mild exercise
– Set realistic goals                                                                                                                                                 – Seek out activities you used to enjoy and begin doing them again.

4. Break large tasks into manageable steps
– Unrealistic expectations may hinder the healing process – keep the steps Manageable.

5. Highlight improvements, even small ones
– Small steps added together become powerful forces for good.

6. Practice allowing others to help
– It takes practice to do something you are not used to doing.

Develop Gospel Resources, Spiritual Tools
1. Have a daily conversation with the master
– He can walk beside us and help us overcome our imperfections and weaknesses, and provide comfort and sustenance. Remember, this is not a complaint session, it is a sharing time.
2. Recognize your need for God, and look for his hand in your life
– He can lead us out of the valley of depression.
– God is a stranger to us unless our eyes are turned to his influence.                                               3. Be willing to be made willing                                                                                                               – He can open up vast spiritual resources.                                                                                     – Yielding to his influence in our lives allows us to feel his love.

“There are stormy times in our lives when we plead for the Master to intervene and clam the troubled waters. Sometimes he does; other times he allows the storms to rage, and he calms us.” Either way, we can come to know and feel his love.

(Please see the entire chapter 13 for the full text)


References:

  • The following information was found in the book, “Matters of the Mind” Latter Day Saint Helps for Mental Health