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Discussing fears, emotions and mental health can be deemed taboo for the average person. These same sentiments can go even further for men, or those who want to be seen as masculine. Mental health concerns like depression can be so hard for men to talk about that many men end up silently struggling for years, reaching out only when they’ve hit rock bottom. Others sadly don’t reach out at all.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “In 2019, the suicide rate among males was 3.7 times higher . . . than among females.” Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide.
Fighting depression is difficult. Not only do you have to fight the illness, but you also have to fight the stigma attached to it. For men, the fear of looking weak or unmanly adds to this problem. Anger, shame, and other defenses can kick in as a means of self-protection but may ultimately prevent men from seeking treatment.
Depression Does Not Equate to Weakness
Depression has nothing to do with a person being weak; it has everything to do with a serious health condition that many people deal with every day. It’s no different than if you develop diabetes or high blood pressure. Depression can happen to anyone. You show our strength by working at it and building support to get better. If anything, opening up and finding the right resources to get help makes you an even stronger person.
People need the room to express their feelings and emotions in order to maintain a certain level of mental health. For years, emotion has been presented as a bad thing, as if possessing emotions means you are unable to make sound decisions. The truth is, it’s okay to feel your emotions but how you handle them is even more important.
Depression is a mood disorder, which means it can make you feel down when there is absolutely nothing to feel down about. You can’t always control what you feel. However, you can do your best to control how you react, and that includes choosing whether to ignore your problems or face them before they get out of hand.
It’s Okay to Talk About It
It’s good to get an outside perspective on what might be contributing to our depression. Consulting a professional who has more knowledge about depression and treatment options is the smartest thing to do. Trying to battle a mental 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.
Ignoring depression won’t make it go away. You may think you know all the answers and believe that talking can’t help a situation. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Often, events happen that seem like a huge deal. After talking about them more openly with a friend or mental health professional, though, you may realize they aren’t as stressful as you thought.
Therapy is a proven treatment for depression. It’s useful for gaining new perspectives and developing new coping skills. Being unhealthy and refusing to seek treatment can put pressure and stress on those that care about you, but it’s important to note that asking for help does not make you a burden. Helping a loved one makes people feel good, so don’t try to hide what you’re going through. What’s most frustrating for a loved one is when someone needs help but refuses to ask for it.
What to Do Once You’re Aware
Once you realize that it’s okay to reach out to others and that it is okay to be open about not feeling the best emotionally, it’s time to have a real conversation with yourself. Getting support is a huge part of overcoming depression. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression. At the same time, the very nature of depression makes it difficult to reach out for help.
When you’re depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate, making it tough to connect with close family members and friends. This is why you should make it a priority to communicate with the people you love. Even finding ways to support others can make a difference in your life when you’re in a depressive state. Try to push yourself to be involved in social activities, even when you don’t feel like it. It’s easier to curl yourself into a ball when you’re depressed, but as much as that may feel right, it’s a bad idea.
No matter who you are, depression is something that can potentially affect your life. Ignoring it and pretending like you’re too strong to be affected is not a sustainable mentality. Everyone needs help at one time or another in their life. When it’s your turn to need help from others, don’t be afraid to take advantage. Utilize your support system because when you’re down, it can also bring the ones around you down if they don’t know what you’re going through. It’s important to push yourself to interact and be active even when you don’t want to. If you are uncomfortable talking with the people in your current support system, all is not lost. The Kimberly Center can help you and your loved ones navigate through these tough times in your life. We have healthcare professionals and programs specially made for you. Contact us at (855) 452-3683 to get more information on how we could help you.