Important information about men and depression.
In the February 26 issue of Newsweek, there is an important cover feature on some of the latest findings about the nature of depression and how more men suffer from it than previously thought. The article has some important findings which I will outline here.
I am writing about this here because some of the key points are related to
Men’s Disquietâ„¢. I want to be careful here. I am not saying that someone who is struggling with their Disquiet is clinically depressed. But the studies are now showing that not dealing with lengthy or severe stress can lead to depression.
Men who suffer from prolonged stress can become depressed. Not dealing with one’s Disquiet can be very stressful.
Here are some of what I thought were the key points in the article by Julie Scelfo. She writes:
Six million American men will be diagnosed with depression this year. But millions more suffer silently, unaware that their problem has a name or unwilling to seek treatment.
Although depression is emotionally crippling and has numerous medical implications-some of them deadly, many men fail to recognize the symptoms. Instead of talking about their feelings, men may mask them with alcohol, drug abuse, gambling, anger or by becoming workaholics. And even when they do realize they have a problem, men often view asking for help as an admission of weakness, a betrayal of their male identities.
The result is a hidden epidemic of despair that is destroying marriages, disrupting careers, filling jail cells, clogging emergency rooms and costing society billions of dollars in lost productivity and medical bills. It is also creating a cohort of children who carry the burden of their fathers’ pain for the rest of their lives.
The Gary Cooper model of manhood, what Tony Soprano called “the strong, silent type” to his psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi, is so deeply embedded in our social psyche that some men would rather kill themselves than confront the fact that they feel despondent, inadequate or helpless.
“Our definition of a successful man in this culture does not include being depressed, down or sad,” says Michael Addis, chair of psychology at Clark University in Massachusetts. “In many ways it’s the exact opposite. A successful man is always up, positive, in charge and in control of his emotions.”
This might sound familiar if you have read anything here about the Disquiet. Some key themes about the Disquiet that I am uncovering in my own study is that men are:
- keeping their struggle with their unease to themselves
- feeling disconnected from their success
- feeling that their suffering means they have failed as a man
- thinking they are not supposed to be feeling what they are feeling.
The Newsweek article describes recent research that validated that ignoring stress can lead to long term damage physiologically and emotionally.
Some more factoids from Newsweek:
1. For decades, psychologists believed that men experienced depression at only a fraction of the rate of women. But this overly rosy view, doctors now recognize, was due to the fact that men were better at hiding their feelings.
2. Some of the symptoms of depression are so severe, like gambling addiction or alcoholism, they are often mistaken for the problem.
3. The widespread failure to recognize depression in men has enormous medical and financial consequences. Depression has been linked to heart disease, heart attacks and strokes, problems that affect men at a higher rate and an earlier age than women. Men with depression and heart disease are two or three times more likely to die than men with heart disease who are not depressed. Lost productivity due to adult depression is estimated at $83 billion a year. Over the past 50 years, American men of all ages have killed themselves at four or more times the rate of women, depending on the specific age range.
The article outlines some recent discoveries:
For decades, scientists believed the main cause of depression was low levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. Newer research, however, focuses on the nerve cells themselves and how the brain’s circuitry can be permanently damaged by hyperactive stress responses, brought on by genetic predisposition, prolonged exposure to stress or even a single traumatic event. “When the stress responses are stuck in the ‘on’ position, that has a negative effect on mood regulation overall,” says Dr. Michael C. Miller, editor of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. A depressed brain is not necessarily underproducing something, says Dr. Thomas Insel, head of the National Institute of Mental Health-it’s doing too much.
These discoveries have opened up broad new possibilities for treatment. Instead of focusing on boosting neurotransmitters (the function of antidepressants in the popular SSRI category such as Prozac and Zoloft), scientists are developing medications that block the production of excess stress chemicals, hoping to reduce damage to otherwise healthy nerve cells. They are also looking at hormones. In a recent study, DHEA, an
over-the-counter hormonal therapy, was shown to be effective in treating major and minor midlife-onset depression.
A new way to see if someone has depression:
Researchers developed a simple screening test for doctors to use: Over the last two weeks, have you been bothered by either of the following problems: (a) little interest or pleasure in doing things? or (b) feeling down, depressed or hopeless? If a patient responds “yes,” seven more questions can be administered, which result in a 0 to 27 rating. Score in hand, many physicians feel more comfortable broaching the subject of depression, and men seem more willing to discuss it. “It’s a way of making it more concrete,” says Indiana
Depression-screening tests are so effective at early detection and may prevent so many future problems (and expenses) that the U.S. Army is rolling out a new, enhanced screening program for soldiers returning from Iraq.
Ten questions to help you decide.
Click here for a test is used by mental health professionals to help identify the symptoms of depressive disorders.
The article, as well as medical professionals, say that if you have depression, don’t ignore it. There are very new and effective treatment programs that work best when some of these new drugs are combined with therapy.
This article profiled several well known men who suffered from depression:
Abe Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Ernest Heminway, Robert Lowell
Jackson Pollack, Buzz Aldrin, Terry Bradshaw, Kurt Cobain
Dick Cavett, Jim Carrey, Tom Johnson (CEO CNN)
You can read more by clicking here.
There were also stories of everyday guys who sought treatment and have wonderful lives.
So just like the Disquiet, if you think you are suffering from Depression, do not stay quiet about it. You are not alone and you do not need to suffer.
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Tags: Life, Men's Roles, Resources, The Disquiet, Working with change, career, DEPRESSED, men s coaching, midlife, midlife crisis, personal development, productivity, Stress, study