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Depression: Important takeaways for men and women

Given that the holiday season is upon us, I wanted to share some information on a very common mood disorder-Depression. It is not uncommon for the holiday season, along with being a time of celebration and joy for people, can be a trigger for unhealthy thoughts and feelings for others. If a person is going through a challenging time during this season of the year. The socio-cultural pressure placed on people to be joyous, outgoing, and social can sometimes have the exact opposite effect. Causing them to dwell on the things they perceive as missing in their lives, relations which are or may seem to be stressful, or other unhealthy stressors. All of which can trigger depressive symptoms for those who live with this behavioral health condition. According to the DSM-V, Major Depression Disorder is defined as a mood disorder that presents at least one or more of the following-

  • General lack of interest (in activities that generally interests you)

  • Unexplained weight change (loss or gain)

  • Fatigue

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Feeling unworthy

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Suicidal ideation (thoughts of suicide)

  • Thinking that others or this world would be better off without me

Depression can impact men just as much as it does women. At one time it was falsely assumed that men were not as prone to Depression as women. Research has proven such assumptions to be false, however current research has documented differences between men and women as it pertains to how Depression impacts us. For instance, men and women differ regarding how they seek help when experiencing Depressive symptoms. Men, especially young men, as well as teenage males tend not to report mental episodes to family or professionals at the same rate females report their symptoms. This is partly due to the cultural pressure we still place on males to process their problems and emotions internally. As a society, we still, for the most part , socialize males not to share their vulnerabilities with others. Therefore, seeking help is hard for them when they have been told by society to do so is a sign of weakness. Unlike males, females have been socialized from an early age to be more engaged with their feelings and in their relations to others. Research shows that they are more apt to talk to someone and or seek professional help when they are experiencing Depression symptoms. Another difference between men and women regarding Depression pertains to how males’ express their symptoms. Literature shows that we should also look for the following in men’s expression of Depression symptoms:

  • Irritability

  • Aggression

  • Diminished sex drive

  • Increased Risk Taking

Lastly, if men's Depression symptoms include suicidal ideation they are at

increased risk of self-harm. This is because men tend to use more deadly means to commit suicide.Depression is nearly always involved as a potential factor in suicide or suicide attempts. Statistics from the Center for Disease Control show that in 2012 of the attempted suicides that year, 78% were men, and of that number 56.4% or 17,910 used a firearm.Even more alarming, if you are in the military or a service veteran, the statistics for men committing suicide or attempting suicide are even more disconcerting (There will be a future blog post dedicated to covering this issue).

Contrary to what some may think, Depression is not general sadness or grief. We need these coping mechanisms to process difficult emotions, as they keep us in an emotionally healthy space. However, if they are prolonged or begin to effect other aspects of your life, you may need to be proactive in dealing with whatever issue is at the heart of that difficult emotion. I would suggest that if you are continually dealing with prolonged sadness or grief that you talk to someone you trust or seek a professional assessment. Moreover, there are certain major life transitions, social and biological factors, and genetic influences that have been linked to Depression. Some of the most common include:

  • Sudden onset of a disability or serious health condition (for example Diabetes or Stroke)

  • Sudden loss of a loved one or close family member

  • Divorce

  • Unemployment

  • Other behavioral health or substance use diagnosis

  • Biochemical fluctuations, hormonal changes, genetic predisposition

We now understand that Depression is a serious behavioral health issue.We also know that it impacts men and women equally and that men express their symptoms differently than women.Lastly, we understand that women tend to seek help more than men.And that men are more likely to use deadly force if they decide to act on their thoughts of suicide.This last factor places men at an increased risk if they go untreated for their Depression.Because of these issues, we need to be attentive to who is in our relationship circles.If you think someone is not processing their emotions in a healthy way, you show that you care, when you express your concern for them.

As an example, coworkers and supervisors may be the first to recognize Depression symptoms, and may even be able to observe firsthand how symptoms are impacting work performance.Coworkers are also in a great position to recommend a company resource such as an Employee Assistance Program or EAP.Raising their concern and suggesting where counseling and support can be found may be the difference maker for that person.Likewise, faith communities are in a unique position to notice changes in individuals.Think about the disengagement symptoms-such as lack of interests and withdrawing.If this shows up in an otherwise usually active and engaged member it may be a great opportunity to reach out with a call or visit.If you or someone you care about is expressing symptoms of Depression please know that True Impact Counseling Services, PLLC is here for you.As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I have been trained to provide therapy to individuals that are living with Depression and assess those who may be at potential risk for it.True Impact Counseling Services, PLLC provides confidential counseling services in a private, no judgment space.Our counseling services take place in an office setting, evening and weekend appointment times are available.


Veteran Specific Resources:

Or dial 1-800-273-8255

Travis E. Williams M.Ed., LPC, CRC is Lead Counselor and Owner of True Impact Counseling Services, PLLC. Travis is a licensed professional counselor and a nationally certified rehabilitation counselor. Travis is a solution-focused counselor that specializes in men's issues, couples therapy, and individual therapy. Travis also provides career and vocational counseling. In his spare time Travis enjoys walking in local parks, greenway bike rides in Wake and Johnston Counties and spending quality time with his wife of eighteen years and his son.

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