Depression can be hard to talk about and many men suffer in silence for years, only reaching out after they've hit rock bottom. Sadly, others don’t reach out at all. This is one of the reasons why men account for 3-4 times the number of suicides as women*, with depression being one of the leading risk factors. Fighting depression isn’t easy. Not only do you have to fight the illness but also stigma - as many men fear looking weak or unmanly. Anger, shame, and other defences can start as a means of self-protection but may ultimately prevent men from seeking professional support. Here are five common myths that stand between men and recovering from depression.
Myth 1: Depression is connected to weakness
Depression has nothing to do with personal weakness. Depression is a serious health condition that millions of men contend with every year. It’s no different than if you develop diabetes or high blood pressure – it happens and we show our strength by working and building supports to get better.
Myth 2: A man should be able to control his feelings
Depression is a mood disorder. That means it’s an illness that messes with our emotions. It can make us feel down when we’re not, or when there is nothing to feel down about. We can’t always control what we feel, but we can do our best to control how we react – this includes choosing whether to ignore our problems or face them before they get out of hand.
Myth 3: Real men don’t ask for help
Sometimes we need an outside perspective for a different take on what might be contributing to depression. Consulting a professional who has more knowledge of depression and treatment options is the smartest thing to do. Trying to battle a major health condition on your own is like trying to push a boulder up a mountain by yourself – without a team to back you up, it’s going to be a lot harder.
Myth 4: Talking about depression won’t help
Ignoring depression won’t make it go away. Sometimes we think we already know all the answers and that talking with someone won’t be any help. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Often, things that seem like a huge deal in our minds aren’t as stressful when we talk about them more openly with a friend or doctor. Talk therapy (or psychotherapy) is also a proven treatment for depression – and it’s useful for gaining new perspectives and developing new skills.
Myth 5: Depression will make you a burden to others.
Being unhealthy and refusing to seek treatment can put pressure and stress on those that care about you. We all like to help out friends and family when we can – it makes us feel good. What’s often frustrating is when we know someone can use a hand, but they refuse to ask for it.
If you or a man you know may be dealing with depression, HeadsUpGuys is a website specifically designed to help men fight depression. The site features practical tips, information about professional services, and stories of recovery from real men. It also has a self-check that can help determine whether or not depression may be affecting you. *Data on suicide rates taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Data & Statistics Fatal Injury Report for 2014.