As mental health continues to be an ever-rising issue, it is important for us to talk about the manifestations of mental health within our male population. We must confront the reality that men, just as much as women, can suffer from stress and depression and that this issue is one that needs to be discussed openly and honestly. It is time for us to lend an ear and understand the impact of stress and depression in men, to learn how to support those currently facing such issues and prevent it from afflicting those in the future.
1. Mental Health and Men: Addressing Stress and Depression
Mental health and emotional wellbeing in men can be just as important to their overall health and longevity as physical health. Unfortunately, men are far less likely to talk openly about their stress or depression. In fact, research shows that men are 4 times more likely than women to die by suicide in the US.
Studies further underline that men confront higher stress levels compared to women, largely owing to societal pressure, beliefs, and behaviors. For men, there is this pervasive pressure to be tougher, to be strong, and to not be seen as weak or dependent. It is no surprise then that these high expectations and standards leave men less likely to seek help and support.
- Take Time to Unwind: Everyday needs to have an escape from the pressures of work, family, finance, and more. It can be anything that you enjoy, whether it’s reading, sports, or listening to music.
- Talk About Emotions: It is ok for men to have and express emotions, and it is important to feel comfortable talking about feelings.
- Build a Support System: Friends and family can be an incredible source of inspiration and strength, so make sure to develop connections and keep them updated.
- Focus on Self-Care: Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are key components for a healthy lifestyle.
Seeking Professional Help: Offering mental health services is one of the best forms of support available and it’s important to be mindful and established a framework for talking about feelings, needs, and objectives. Proactively connecting with a reliable therapist or counselor can be a great way to take on anxiety and depression.
2. Taking Care of Your Mental Health
Mental health is as important to take care of as physical health, but it often goes overlooked in comparison. Taking small, simple steps to look after your mind can help to prevent larger issues later on.
- Schedule Time for Yourself – Taking time out for yourself is essential in order for your mental health to stay healthy. Make sure to plan out some time throughout the week to do something positive that makes you happy.
- Connect with Others – Staying connected to friends and family can be a great source of support. Studies have found that people who enjoy social interaction and meaningful relationships tend to notice the benefits on their mental health.
- Get Moving – Physical activity releases endorphins, a hormone that naturally boosts your mood. Whether it’s a dance class, running, or just a brisk walk, choose something enjoyable and take advantage of the happy benefits.
Finally, practice mindful activities to help reduce stress and worrying thoughts. Showing yourself self-compassion and forgiveness can prevent your anxiety or depression from getting worse. Meditation and yoga are both excellent tools to help relax your mind.
3. Dealing with Stressful Times
We’re all familiar with the phrase “it’s not you, it’s the current situation”. In this time of unprecedented change and stress, we can use this phrase as an anchor for our wellbeing.
- Take Control – although right now, it can feel like we don’t control our situation, we can choose how to handle it. Make sure to take breaks and find small ways to make yourself happy and safe.
- Stay Connected – social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. It’s important to stay connected with family and friends through virtual talks. Reach out for help if needed.
- Invite Positivity – even if current news may be inundated with negativity, focus on the things that bring you peace and calm.Find ways to bring a sense of comfort and joy, from taking on a new hobby to listening to calming music.
By making mindful decisions and staying connected to those we care about, we can do our best to take the reins and be the captain of our own ship. As long as we are kind to ourselves and reach out, we can weather this storm together.
4. Recognizing Depression in Men
Although men may experience depression in the same way as women, they may not express it in the same way. This means that it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression in men to ensure that appropriate treatment and care can be accessed. Here are a few key signs to be aware of.
- Major shifts in behavior – Behavior can vary significantly from physical aggression and increasingly risk taking behavior, to general retreat and isolation. Pay attention to behavior changes to determine if there is something more serious going on.
- Decline in self-care – Men suffering from depression often let their physical and mental health go by the wayside due to lack of energy or motivation. This can be as simple as letting the beard grow or not dressing well, or as serious as sleeping more often and not taking preventative measures for any health concerns.
- Lethargy - Lethargy or lack of energy can be a key symptom of depression, and will make it hard for men to keep up with activities they used to enjoy or just basic tasks like going to work or shopping.
With the right treatment and care, men can learn to manage the symptoms of depression and eventually achieve a level of balance. It is important for men to feel proud to seek out the help they need and for friends and family to be aware of the signs so they can help their loved ones in the toughest of times.
5. Realizing It’s Okay to Ask for Help
We all need a helping hand from time to time. Despite how independent and self-sufficient we want to come off looking, we all need other people to help us out. Even though asking for help can feel embarrassing or vulnerable, learning to reach out to others is a valuable life skill.
- Start small. Test the waters by letting your family and friends know that you are open to a helping hand. Start building your trust in other people and see how they respond.
- Don’t be afraid to ask. Remember, most people are happy to help and support you in any way they can. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; it takes a lot of courage.
- Be specific. When you make a request, be as clear and specific as you can. This helps make sure that the person helping you can act as effectively as possible.
It’s okay to feel vulnerable and scared when asking for help, and it’s OK to feel frustrated when it takes longer to get help than we expect. Recognizing that is the first step in understanding that it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to ask for help.
Of course, things don’t stop there. Once we have the courage to ask for help, it’s important to use that support wisely to find the best solution and build on it. After all, we’re not just asking for help for the sake of it. We’re asking for help to grow and become better people.
When it comes to addressing stress and depression in men, it’s essential to recognize that mental health does matter. While talking about mental health can be difficult, reaching out for help can make a real difference in the life of someone who is struggling. With the proper coping mechanisms, we can all work together to better understand mental health, support each other, and make sure that no one feels alone on their journey.