There were over 41,000 deaths from completed suicide in 2013 with males accounting for nearly 80 percent of fatalities. In addition to the individual loss of life, the emotional and psychological costs to family members, friends and entire communities are enormous. Despite the apparent need for mental health services aimed at men and boys, psychological services remain under-utilized by males.
One reason men and boys do not seek professional help for a psychological struggle is the stigma of mental illness among this population. Stigmas largely exist because mental illness remains misunderstood and at times sensationally stereotyped. Depression is often seen as the precursor to suicidal ideation and behavior so let's take a look at some dangerous myths about men and depression.
Men do not become depressed
According to the National Institute of Mental Health depression strikes more than six million men a year in the United States. The number is thought to be much higher as this illness is underreported. Bottom line: No matter how isolated you feel, if you are struggling with depression, you are not alone.
Depression is the same for everyone
Males may not present with symptoms traditionally associated with depression. For example, males may be less likely to report frequent crying while more apt to reveal anger or irritability. Additionally, males are more likely to engage in high risk behaviors such as physical violence, substance abuse and hyper sexual behavior, all of which may mask depression.
Being depressed is a sign of weakness
Depression has nothing to do with being weak; it is an illness which can be fatal if left untreated. Individuals who acknowledge their struggles and seek mental health assistance are standing up for themselves and their loved ones. Reaching out for help when experiencing significant stress is courageous; especially considering societal stigmas towards mental health issues.
A Real Man would simply "solider on"
Experiencing depression can happen to anyone and the origin of onset also varies from person to person. One of the worst things to do is ignore or avoid addressing mental health struggles. The symptoms often do not disappear as a result of avoidance, they can intensify. The best course of action is following up with a mental health practitioner for assessment and treatment.
You just have to manage your emotions
Emotions are absolutely part of depression, but this disorder has physical implications as well. Brain chemistry, body hormones, new and/or existing medical illnesses are all impacted by depression. Furthermore, social and occupational impairment can result from this illness.
I can't be depressed, my life is going great
Gainfully employed males in happy romantic relationships with robust social lives can experience depression. As psychologist John Grohol explained "Some people mistakenly believe that a person can only be justified in their depression if there's a cause or reason for them to be depressed. But for the vast majority of people who suffer depression, it is not something that's voluntary or something that one can just 'snap out of' or 'stop being depressed.'"
It cannot be stressed enough that anyone can experience depression and this illness can strike at anytime for seemingly no reason at all. More importantly, being diagnosed with this illness is not an indictment of you; there are genetic and physiological components to the disease which do not conform to your current life situation.
There is no treatment for depression
The good news is there is help. Counseling and psychiatric intervention has consistently been effective in treating depression. According to the website depression and bipolar support alliance up to 80 percent of individuals treated for depression with psychotherapy and medication show improvement in symptoms. Additional protective factors against depression include becoming more involved in a church or social organization, improving sleeping and eating patterns, increased physical activity and talking with a mentor, community leader, or loved one.
This originally appeared on Goodmenproect.com. Republished here with permission.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.