Depression in Men – A New Resource

By Dr. John Orgrodniczuk

Depression – it’s a tough topic for guys to talk about – but it shouldn’t be.  Seeking help is often misconstrued as a sign of weakness that a lot of men want to avoid at all costs.  In fact, lots of guys suffer in silence because they can’t bring themselves to reach out for a hand.  Unfortunately, for too many of these men, the consequences can be terrible – men’s suicide rates are three to four times higher compared to the rates for women.

Why don’t men recognize depression?HeadsUpGuys

Depression in men, at least in the early stages, often doesn’t fit the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders description (which includes symptoms of persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood; feelings of hopelessness and pessimism; and feelings of guilt).  In men, depression can often manifest itself in other ways. This can include irritability; anger; hostile, aggressive, or abusive behaviour; risk taking; substance abuse; and escaping behaviour, like overworking. These symptoms serve as cover-up mechanisms to hide the internal turmoil that depression can result in. Unfortunately, at some point this type of compensation often fails.

Why don’t men seek treatment?

Men don’t typically arrive at their doctors’ offices talking about feeling sad or depressed. If they do happen to disclose anything, they tend to describe their problems at work including diminished job performance or keeping up with day-to-day tasks. Generally, men talk about “stress” rather than sadness or feeling down.

Our society often prescribes male roles and behaviour. As men grow up they learn to distance themselves from their emotions, especially any visible feelings of sadness. Instead, independence, competitiveness, emotional stoicism, and self-control are expected of men. Anger, shame, and other defences start as a means of self-protection that ultimately prevent men from seeking treatment.

Where should men start?

Resources for men are scarce when it comes to men’s mental health, so we’ve built a website to lay it all out for guys who are fighting depression.

The site, HeadsUpGuys, was launched in June 2015 with the support of the Movember Foundation.

HeadsUpGuys provides men with practical advice, information about professional services, and inspirational stories of recovery. HeadsUpGuys was developed by a team of clinicians, researchers, and men who have faced depression. This site also includes a tool for visitors to check their symptoms, which they can then share with a healthcare professional.

With this site, we’re trying to disrupt how men think about mental health and break down the stigma that surrounds the topic.

We want to flip things around in guys’ minds, re-framing help-seeking as a show of strength, of taking control of your situation to get things back on track.  Reaching out for a hand – getting some professional guidance or advice – is all about the guy grabbing the bull by the horns and not only saying “I need to fix this”, but also actually carrying out the steps to do so.

HeadsUpGuys presents the tools men need to fight depression in a way that appeals to guys – it’s authentic, informed, and focused on concrete and practical steps.

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