The Look of Depression- Men
This is one of the easiest and hardest groups of people to see the behaviors of depression. Men are raised to be strong, virile, leaders, who are providers. We can’t forget that the evolution of the male role is one of the largest shifts in society. Our family’s hunter and gatherer is now being told that they are needed to be more connected emotionally to the home, they are no longer solidified in the role of leader, and often are no longer the bread-winners of their homes. What, you may ask, does this have to do with depression? EVERYTHING!
Men are in transition and are still human. They have feelings, but have not been given permission to show it. They are sad and worried, but are told that is weak and to push those feelings down and march on. All of this combines into one major way that men show depression: Anger. We can thank the combination of everything discussed and testosterone for this one major symptom. Men are also more likely to self-medicate with tobacco, drugs or alcohol. Again, men don’t feel they have permission to feel depression, so they definitely don’t feel permission to talk about it. If you are a man reading this post, I want to tell you thank you. Thank you for being strong. Thank you for feeling committed to leading. Thank you for pushing your feelings aside to keep working hard and going on. But, it was all a lie. Your feelings didn’t go anywhere. They are still in there. Maybe you have learned to compartmentalize. Maybe you have learned how to displace it in an area that feels safe. IT. IS. STILL. THERE. It will be there until you acknowledge it and work to resolve it rather than repress it.
Now, if you are a loved one to a man that you feel is depressed, STOP. I can read your mind and see that you are thinking, “I am going to tell them I read this thing about depression and I think they have it.” Remember what I told you about men’s pride? This approach will only wound them, or cause defensiveness. Start by talking to them. Ask them about their day, their work, and their friendships. Listen. If there are minimal responses, but their behavior shows different, give them permission to feel something other than happy, focused, and strong. Offer this post to read. Talk to them about their needs and how you can support them. And, only if you feel the depression is severe, talk about getting support through professional sources.
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