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Depression in men

Depression in men

Depression doesn’t display any prejudice, it can strike anyone regardless of their background, social status or family situation. It is a debilitating mental condition that can pervade the life of anyone, including men.

Unfortunately, although there has been a more positive trend recently towards men opening up about their health problems, far too many males try to hide from or cope alone with the effects of depression, and this can have a devastating impact on their personal and working life.

Some people might not even accept or think that they are suffering from depression, but when you consider that according to the World Health Organisation there an estimated 350 million people worldwide suffering from depression you begin to see the scale of the problem.

Although there are more women than men who are diagnosed with depression it would be a dangerous assumption to suggest that the condition does not affect the male population too.

It is estimated that nearly six million men in the U.S alone are suffering from the effects of depression and every person who is affected by this condition in some way often needs to get help and treatment in order to assist their recovery.

Feelings of sadness and grief are perfectly normal human emotions and certain events in our lives will trigger these natural responses.The problem comes when those feelings don’t subside and you become overwhelmed by feelings of sadness and lose interest in the activities that used to form part of your normal routine.

Untreated depression can ultimately lead to serious complications that can even threaten to put your life at risk, which is why it is a condition that needs to be taken seriously regardless of gender.

Roughly 5% of the world’s population suffer from depression and men contribute to that figure in large numbers. The positive outlook is that most people can be successfully treated for depression, but you first have to understand the condition and know the common symptoms so that you can spot the warning signs and take action to deal with the problem before it leads to further complications.

Different types of depression

One of the fundamental points to bear in mind about depression is that you can be affected by one single bout of major depression or you might suffer from a series of recurring episodes over a period of time.

If you are diagnosed with a depression that continues to affect you for a period beyond 24 months, that is referred to as persistent depressive disorder.

Another form of depression is now referred to as a bipolar disorder and was previously known as manic depression. With some patients, major depression or bipolar disorder result in addition issues rising to the surface such as delusions, hallucinations, or paranoia. This can lead to a diagnosis that you are suffering from psychotic depression, and it is estimated by the National Alliance on Mental Illness that about 20% of people with a major depressive disorder will then go on to develop psychotic symptoms.

You can also suffer other forms of depression that are induced by specific triggers and circumstances. One of the most well-known forms of depression in that respect is seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is where your mood is adversely affected by a lack of sunlight, meaning you are more likely to experience feelings of depression during the dark winter months.

Signs and symptoms

An important point to note is that depression comes in many forms and the signs and symptoms are equally as varied.

There are some classic signs and symptoms that you might demonstrate to suggest that you have a problem that needs addressing but there is no single cause of depression and no specific symptoms that are found in every single patient.

Depression can be as individual as you are. However, there are certain warning signs and red flags in your mood or behavior that will suggest you are experiencing a bout of depression.

Feeling sad

One of the most common feelings you will experience when depression is taking hold is sadness.

This will often feel like a constant and almost overwhelming feeling of sadness that you are unable to remove from your mind. It is also common to feel unduly anxious and a general feeling of emptiness.

You can’t be happy all of the time and certain events are naturally going to make you feel sad and generally depressed. It is when those feelings of sadness and emptiness don’t disappear after a few weeks that you might be experiencing depression.

If you notice that your sadness is accompanied by an unusual level of irritability over even minor issues, and you have feelings of anger and lose interest in your usual activities, these are all classic signs of depression.

You may experience some or all of these particular emotions, plus some other feelings that are not your normal way of looking at life in general.

Pessimism

It is also common to experience feelings of pessimism and hopelessness when you are in a depression.

It can often feel at this point that there is no foreseeable way out of your current situation and you might start to lose hope for things improving and getting back on track. Some people can go on to have thoughts about death or suicide as the only alternative to their current malaise.

Guilt

It is not unusual to experience feelings of guilt as a result of believing that the situation you find yourself in is all your own making and it is entirely your own fault that you are not able to shake off the depression you are feeling.

It is vital to appreciate that these feelings are a direct symptom of the illness and must be seen as such.

Physical symptoms

As well as dealing with the emotional trauma of depression the condition will often result in a series of physical responses.

It is very common to experience insomnia or conversely, you find that you are sleeping for a lot longer than normal. This might also be as a result of the debilitating fatigue that seems to have taken over your body, and you may also find yourself losing or gaining weight as a result of being depressed.

Other common physical symptoms include a series of unexplained aches and pains and a noticeable difficulty concentrating on your usual tasks combined with a reduced ability to make decisions.

What causes depression?

If these physical and emotional symptoms are familiar to you, it is reasonable to start out with the question of pinpointing what may have caused the condition in the first place?

Sometimes it will be obvious what has triggered this reaction such as a traumatic event like the loss of a loved one or losing your job, but more often than not there is no single cause of depression.

You can find that a combination of hormonal responses, brain chemistry, and even genetics, can all play their part.

There are other risk factors to consider such as alcohol or drug abuse, suffering physical or sexual abuse, a family history of depression, and even some prescription medicines that carry side-effects including the risk of depression.

Diagnosis

Whatever the underlying cause, if you believe that you are suffering from a form of depression or can’t explain your current emotional or physical state, it is important to take your mental health seriously and seek some professional help as soon as possible.

If you have experienced a consistently depressed mood for a period of two weeks or more this is a warning flag that you may be experiencing a form of depression. In addition, if you notice four or more notice changes in your normal functioning, such as a disturbed sleep pattern, an eating disorder, and a problem with feelings of self-esteem, combined with a general lack of energy and concentration, these are all telling you that you need to seek a professional diagnosis.

Treatments

There are a number of treatment options available to deal with depression.

Medication

One of the most common methods of treatment is antidepressant medication along with psychological counseling, and you will often find that a combination of the two will be suggested as a method of treatment.

Depression affects your brain so the line of thinking with antidepressants is that as these drugs are targeted to work in the brain by balancing certain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, they should be able to have some success in redressing the imbalance you are experiencing that is leading to your current emotional state of mind.

The most common drugs prescribed for depression are selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It is believed that an imbalance of serotonin can be partly responsible for your feelings of depression and these drugs are aimed at reducing serotonin re-uptake in your brain.

There are a number of recommended drugs used to tackle depression and you may want to find out more about them and the potential side-effects to consider.

The list includes

Zoloft

Sertraline

Prozac

Sarafem

Fluoxetine

Celexa

Citalopram

Lexapro

Escitalopram

Paroxetine

Paxil

Pexeva

Brisdelle

Luvox

Oleptro

Trazodone

It is vital that you work with your doctor and find out all the information you can relating to your prescribed medication so that you are aware of the benefits and side-effects, and can pinpoint a treatment with the help of medical professionals that is best suited to you.

Other depression remedies are also suggested as a way of complementing any medicationyou are prescribed or as a viable alternative.

Hypnosis

It is possible to use hypnosis to relax your mind and condition your brain to a new way of thinking, which could help you to overcome your depression.

Clinical hypnotherapy is now regularly considered as a treatment option and one of the primary aims of this approach is to use proven hypnotic methods to replace trauma with positivity, improving your state of mind and providing a path away from depression.

Psychotherapy

Also referred to as talk therapy, psychotherapy is considered an effective treatment for clinical depression.

As a stand-alone treatment, it may not be effective enough to treat all of your symptoms but it is believed that psychotherapy can play a pivotal role when used in conjunction with other treatments.

There are many different types of psychotherapy available and it is mainly aimed at trying to help you gain a better understanding of the issues that are causing you to feel depressed.

You should be aware that this is not regarded as a quick-fix to the problem and your treatment is likely to last a number of months so that you can develop a relationship with the psychotherapist and comprehensively talk through your issues with them.

You may be offered cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy or psychodynamic therapy, amongst others, but they are all fundamentally aimed at helping you address the issues that are troubling you and find a way to help you cope better with your emotional reactions.

When medication fails

If you are suffering from a severe bout of depression and medical options have failed to bring about any noticeable improvement, it might be suggested that you consider the option of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

This is a dramatic treatment option and is invariably only offered to patients who are diagnosed as being very depressed.

It might be suggested if you have reached a point where you are even unable to speak and have stopped eating or drinking. If you are in such a depressed state that you are considered to be at risk of death due to your diminishing physical and mental state, ECT is offered as a quick treatment to address your symptoms.

There are varying degrees of the treatment and the least invasive of the techniques is called transcranial magnetic stimulation. Other options include vagus nerve stimulation and whichever option is considered it should be noted that there is continuing controversy surround these methods and you should not believe that it is necessarily possible to use shock treatment to immediately lift you out of your depression.

Summary

Depression can strike you in many different ways and for so many different reasons. The physical and emotional responses to this condition are as individual as you are, so you will know when things are not right.

Get help as soon as possible as an early diagnosis and prompt treatment can make a substantial difference to how quickly and how well you recover from depression.

Additional resources:

Depression self-assessment tool

http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types- of-mental- health-problems/depression#

http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression_support_resources

http://www.moodjuice.scot.nhs.uk/depression.asp

http://www.healthcentral.com/depression/c/84292/99854/ten-depression/

https://www.adaa.org/living-with- anxiety/ask-and- learn/resources#Men

http://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/guide/resources/

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