Depression is an equal opportunity offender. It can impact people of all ages and all ethnicities. It can also impact women and men alike. For men, depression can be a uniquely difficult struggle—and the reason for this is simple: Many men have a hard time admitting they are struggling and asking for help in combating it.
Our culture far too often associates manhood with strength, prowess and power; depression, in the eyes of many men, is a “feminine” struggle, something far too emotional or hormone-driven to discuss openly and honestly.
All of this begs the question: Are some of the men in your life struggling with depression, perhaps without admitting it to you—or to themselves? It is certainly possible. Here are some of the telltale signs to watch out for:
- Desperate or overzealous attempts to convince you that he is okay and that he does not need any help.
- Appearing overly happy or euphoric—perhaps in a way that seems disingenuous.
- Self-medicating, either in excessive drinking or in the use of drugs (prescription or otherwise).
- Extreme anger or irritability, seemingly without any reason or “trigger.”
- Extreme pessimism or fatalism.
- Losing interest in activities that used to bring passion and pleasure—or, withdrawal from relationships.
- Thrill-seeking behavior, or constant searching for excitement.
All of these can be understood as warning signs of depression—but what can you do for the man who exhibits these symptoms? Though he may be reluctant to ask for help or even to admit to a problem, your role is to let him know that you love him, are worried about him, and want to see him get better. You cannot fix him and should not force the issue, but do try to initiate an open discussion—one where you can be real about your worry and your willingness to offer support.
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