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What your man needs to know about depression

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Men and depression

Do you suspect your man is suffering from depression? Though being down in the dumps is a normal temporary state of being, if he can’t shake the blues and it’s having a negative, if not devastating, impact on your relationship, family, his friendships or even his career, there’s a good chance he’s got depression. Todd Patkin, former sufferer of depression and author of the new book Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and – Finally – Let the Sunshine In (StepWise Press, 2011), shares seven things your man needs to know about this potentially debilitating yet very treatable disease.

Couple talking

7 Things your man needs to know about depression

Patkin and Dr Rankin came up with seven crucial things men need to know about depression. Pass these along to your mate and other men in your life who might be experiencing depression.

1Depression is more prevalent than ever

America is becoming a nation of overworked, overstressed and, often, unhappy people. Increasing numbers of Americans are being diagnosed with depression, and studies show that each generation is more likely to become depressed than the one before it — and more likely to become so at an earlier age, too. Not surprisingly, antidepressant use in our country continues to grow.

2Men experience depression differently than women

"Women are likely to internalize their negative feelings and blame themselves for their problems, while men more commonly act out on their emotions," Dr Rankin explains. "Depression [usually] manifests itself differently in men because their emotional circuits and brains are designed differently. So instead of getting tearful, a man who is depressed might become irritable, hostile and fatigued." Men also don't like to admit they're having problems and tend to blame others.

3There's a connection between depression and stress

Dr Rankin explains that long-term stress can increase a man's (and woman's) chances of becoming depressed. "While depression can be related to genetics, it can also be caused by long-term stress – especially if you're not handling it well," Dr Rankin asserts. "When you're constantly worn down, anxious and unhappy, you're essentially training your brain to be that way – and eventually, your brain's biochemistry becomes locked into this pattern.

4Depression can damage your physical health

You may consider depression to be a disorder that's rooted in the brain. But that doesn't mean it can't affect your body, too. Depression is characterized by loss of energy and can also cause muscle pain, joint pain, digestive problems, headaches, reduced sex drive and more. It's easy to see how those symptoms can disrupt your life.

5Depression can hurt your family

Don't make the mistake of believing that depression affects only you. "In hindsight, one of the worst things about my depression and breakdown was how much I am sure it scared and upset my wife," Patkin recalls. "Also, I simply couldn't be the dad and husband I wanted to be. Please, if you're reluctant to get help for your own sake, do it for the people you love."

6Depression is not a cause for stigma

"I understand why men feel it is their job as the head of the household to ignore their depression and just continue on," Patkin says. "But doing so can ruin your life and even lead to suicide. I'm very glad to see that our society's view of depression is finally changing, albeit much too slowly for my liking." Patkin is thrilled to see that well-known figures including Terry Bradshaw, George Stephanopoulos and Mike Wallace, to name a few, have also opened up about their own struggles with this illness in order to raise awareness and dispel myths.

7Depression is treatable

Many people suffer from debilitating depression for months or even years, and if you're one of them, you may believe that a "normal" life is — and always will be — beyond your grasp. Depression is treatable, though — and with a combination of counseling and medication, most people are able to completely regain their quality of life. The key is getting the men in your life to see the doctor.

Visit ToddPatkin.com for more information on men and depression.

More on depression

How depression and stress damage your health
One woman's quest to help young people with depression
How to reduce your risk for depression

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