Depression & anxiety among men goes unrecognized-Experts

In Summary
  • On average, one in 8 men will have depression and one in 5 men will experience anxiety.
  • Depression is a serious and common mental health condition.
  • Depression affects men and women differently due to brain chemistry.
Ms. Gift Nakayinga. Clinician, Mental & Public Health Expert.
Image: Courtesy photo

Mental health experts say depression & anxiety among men go unrecognized and untreated. ‘’Are you a man, do you feel irritable, isolated, or withdrawn? Do you find yourself working all the time? Drinking too much? These unhealthy ways of coping may be clues that you have male depression’’. Noted Ms. Gift Nakayinga. Clinician, Mental & Public Health Expert.

Adults ages 30 to 60 tend to have a lot going on that can trigger depression like caring for children as well as aging parents, financial stress, isolation, work and relationship issues, menopause dealing with major illnesses, and lots of responsibilities with no relief in sight.

‘’When depression occurs in men, it may be hidden by unhealthy coping behavior. Anxiety and depression are mental health conditions, not weaknesses, Taking action may seem difficult but help and support are readily available’’. She added.

In our conversation with Ms. Nakayinga, she noted that It is important to seek support for anxiety and depression early the sooner the better. ‘’With the right treatment, most people recover from anxiety and depression, Self-care which is underrated would add a milestone.

She noted that on average, one in 8 men will have depression and one in 5 men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives. Men are less likely to experience anxiety and depression than women and are also less likely to talk about it which increases the risk of their anxiety or depression going unrecognized and untreated leading to serious and sometimes tragic results. But when treated, male depression usually gets better.

"Men tend to put off getting any kind of support, because they may think they’re supposed to be tough, self-reliant, and able to manage pain and take charge of situations. Making it hard for men to acknowledge they have any health issues, which later affect their social and emotional wellbeing". She further stated.

Depression is a serious and common mental health condition that is unlikely to get better by itself. If you have a broken arm or a deep cut on your foot, you don’t expect that to heal without medical help. It’s the same with depression it’s important to seek support.

About Male depression and suicide.

Ms Nakayinga said that although women attempt suicide more often than men do, men are more likely to complete suicide. That's because men use methods that are more likely to cause death, such as guns, may act more suddenly in the moment on thoughts about suicide, show fewer warning signs, such as talking about suicide, are more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to cope, which increases the risk of suicide.

''It isn't clear why depression affects men and women differently due to brain chemistry, hormones and life experiences. Could also stem from the traditional male role, which discourages the expression of emotions and encourages the pursuit of success, power and competition. For a fact depression is often associated with sadness, empty and hopelessness, it also manifests itself in irritability and anger, unnecessary risk taking, and increased alcohol or drug use in men and among other physical signs like loss of energy, exhaustion, changes in appetite, change in sleep patterns and restlessness, loss of sex drive, alcohol or drug use’’. She narrated.

On the other hand, male depression affects relationships. If your significant other is depressed, they might turn down your romantic or sexual cues, decline dates, and sit out of activities they once enjoyed doing with you. You might feel hurt, abandoned, and alone at times when dating someone with depression symptoms.

About Anxiety:

It’s noted that the main cause of anxiety in men are stressful events or traumatic experiences in their life, either now or in the past, can trigger anxiety. These might include excessive stress at work, financial worries, experiencing a bereavement or going through a relationship break-up. Anxiety is more than having sweaty palms and butterflies in your stomach. Symptoms of anxiety can include ongoing feelings of worry, fear and impending doom that are so severe they interfere with your ability to work, maintain relationships and get a decent night’s sleep. Physical signs of anxiety include racing heart, excessive sweating, muscle tension, restlessness or agitation, dizziness, shortness of breath or choking sensations, insomnia, panic attacks. Emotional signs of anxiety like frequent worry about what could go wrong, feelings of dread, concentration problems, avoidance, catastrophic thinking, irritability or edginess, being overly vigilant towards danger, absentmindedness and fear of losing control.

One may ask Is Stress a form of anxiety or depression:

According to Ms. Nakayinga, Stress is not the same as anxiety or depression but for some people, being stressed for a long time can lead to anxiety or depression, and it can affect a person’s physical health, particularly cardiovascular health.

When we talk about being stressed, it usually means we’re upset or tense about something that’s happening in our lives. Stress is a normal part of daily life. It’s a natural physical and mental response that is designed to help people cope effectively with emergencies. Some stress can be a good thing. It can help us get motivated to get things done, but health problems from stress happen when it is regular and doesn’t let up.

Way for men coping with anxiety and depression

There are lots of things that men can do to look after their health and wellbeing, so every man should find an approach that best suits them. It's important to look after your body (Self-care) by staying physically active, eating healthily and getting plenty of sleep. Try not to drink alcohol or take other drugs to block out how you're feeling and what is happening. This is not a positive long-term solution and can make the anxiety or depression worse. Others involve making plans for the day they don’t have to be grand plans, just small things like going for a run or talking to a mate. Try to include activities or hobbies that you specifically enjoy. At first, you may not enjoy them as much as you did before, but if you keep active and persist, the enjoyment should eventually return.

How to help someone with anxiety or depression.

let them know if you’ve noticed a change in their behavior, spend time talking about their experiences and let them know you’re there to listen without being judgmental, suggest they go to a doctor or health professional, and help them to make an appointment, offer to go with them to their appointment and follow up with them afterwards, encourage them to get enough sleep, to exercise and to eat well, encourage family and friends to invite them out and keep in touch, but don’t pressure them to participate in activities, contact a doctor or hospital if they become a threat to themselves or others. We should avoid putting pressure on them by telling them to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘get their act together, staying away or avoiding them, telling them they just need to stay busy or get out more

Note that It’s crucial to develop an action plan for anxiety and depression to help you cover a wide range of options. The plan can include exercise, stress management and how to improve your sleep. You should refer to a psychologist who can help you address things like negative thinking and how to manage difficulties in your relationships. If you think you may have anxiety or depression, and want to take action, start by talking to someone you trust keeping it to yourself can make things worse. Discuss your situation with a friend, partner, family member a colleague or your doctor