Most men dealing with depression have stories that are very similar, waking with a heavy head even in the happiest of times. A bad day is described as one in which you can’t get out of bed and it feels as if there is a dark cloud hanging over your head. Today, as the NFL season moves towards playoffs, many athletes are living with depression related to multiple concussions. A study of over 2,500 retired NFL players concluded that three concussions triple the chance of experiencing depression. This is extremely important in a sport in which brain trauma is so often and easily dismissed.
Just like helmets cover the faces of men playing a violent game, the angry aggression that is so commonly associated with normal guy behavior may actually be a mask for depression and physical injury is not needed to suffer its effects. It has actually been discovered that depression is more common in men than anyone ever knew, as male depression has often been under-diagnosed because the standard diagnostic manual portrays the depression symptoms more commonly associated with women. About six million men will be diagnosed with depression in 2008, not counting the one million more that will go undiagnosed.
The sad weepiness that is commonly associated with depression is much more commonly found in women, while a man is more likely to be short-tempered, fatigued, and uninterested in sex, work, or hobbies. However, it is work that provides depressed men a distraction to their painful inner feelings. Men are more likely to try downing their pain in alcohol or drugs instead of getting treatment. Untreated depression explains why the male suicide rate is more than four times the rate of female suicide. Although there are hormonal differences in depression of the different genders, the common factor is stress.
Although some men are open to being told they are depressed, most only act out with more anger. An effective, but not exactly subtle approach to telling a man he may have depression is leaving and article or book around the house for him to pick up. Severe depression requires immediate attention by a trained practitioner, along with various medical interventions. Once the worst is over, it is important to try to maintain a depression-free lifestyle. This can be done by reduction stress and finding social support as well as dietary changes.
This is a difficult step for men who are used to conversations which revolve around scores and transactions, but good places to start are men’s groups at houses of worship (church) or those groups such as AA if substance abuse is part of the problem. By fortifying the brain with depression-fighting nutrients, including a B vitamin complex, one can maintain and promote normal mental functioning. Many depressed people are extremely deficient in folic acid as well as dietary essential fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are needed to build healthy brain cells, along with phosphatidyl serine. Other herbs, including eleuthero, rhodiola, and ginseng, can help the body to adapt to stress, while St. John’s wort and SAMe work as natural antidepressants.
The most severe mistake that can be made is to play down depression, which applies to raging men just as much as it does to weeping women. Both genders need to seek help if feeling this way. If you feel you are experiencing depression, seek professional help as well as look into dietary changes, exercise, and the support of family can be a good start to a healthier outlook on life.