Men and Depression: Overcoming the Stigma
Terry Bradshaw. Jim Carrey. Billy Joel. Winston Churchill. Abraham Lincoln. In addition to being famous and successful, these men—and many others—share another important characteristic: they all suffered from depression.
About six million men in the United States suffer from depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. While the stigma of mental health disorders is fading, some men are still reluctant to talk about, or seek help for, depression. That's unfortunate, since treatment is generally very effective.
Rather than discussing how they feel, men are more likely to express depression in other ways, such as fatigue, irritability, loss of interest in work and activities, and sleep disturbances. Furthermore, men may turn to alcohol or drugs, throw themselves into work, or engage in reckless behaviors rather than asking for help. Substance abuse can mask depression and make it harder to diagnose mental health experts are not sure if substance abuse is simply a symptom of depression, or a concurrent problem.
Left Untreated, Depression is Dangerous
For men, depression and suicide often go hand in hand. Singer Billy Joel tried to commit suicide by drinking furniture polish. Although more women than men attempt suicide, men are four times more likely to die by suicide. We tend to think that mostly younger men commit suicide; however, older white men suffer the highest suicide rates. Suicide is still a concern in young men, however. In 2002, suicide was the third leading cause of death in men 15 to 24.
Overcoming the Stigma of Depression
A stigma is a negative judgment based on a personal trait. In the past, mental illness carried the stigma that it was a personal weakness. We now know that depression is a medical condition that physicians can treat like any other illness. However, the stigma—or the perception of a stigma—still exists for some men, which discourages them from seeking treatment according to The National Institute of Mental Health's aggressive awareness campaign, Real Men. Furthermore, the public has become more accepting of the use of anti-depressants.
If you suffer from depression, relief is possible. Don't let your perception of a negative stigma prevent you from seeking treatment. Come to terms with your illness, and seek support from people you trust. Don't equate your personal self with mental illness.
You can help the depressed man in your life by encouraging him get to see a physician for evaluation and treatment and by offering your unconditional support.
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Hotter Temperatures Linked To Kidney Stones
- 2. Summer Bug Bites: What to Look For
- 3. Skin Health Advice with Dr. Kenneth Beer
- 4. Summer Safety Tips That Every Parent Needs To Know
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.