Analogy: Depression is one of those difficult to discuss medical topics, because people can suffer with depression and show different signs and symptoms. Depression in men is a topic that we must understand and discuss because it affects our mental, physical, spiritual, and sexual health.
I try to tell all of my clients that depression is like waking up with a dead battery and no matter what you do you cannot seem to charge it. Men with depression have harder times falling and staying asleep. This lack of sleep can lead to the dead battery (no energy) feeling. When a man cannot sleep or feels fatigued he may show frustration or agitation.
Why is it important?
One of the reasons we need to discuss depression in men is because men we do not have the best coping mechanisms. As men we find it difficult to discuss our feelings and we tend to bury our emotions deep inside, which leads to deeper depression. Burying this depression can lead to worsening of symptoms and sometimes even suicide. More men die because of suicide compared to women in the world.
Why do people suffer from depression?
There are quite a few reasons men suffer from depression:
- Genetics: Yes you can inherit depression from your family. This could be because people in the same household deal with similar issues.
- Your environment: One of the biggest issues for men that cause depression is our environment. This could be your financial environment, relationship issues, or work problems.
- Illnesses: Some major illnesses (diabetes, heart failure, cancer, and Parkinson’s) may coincide with depression or may worsen their depression.
What are the signs and symptoms of depression?
- Feelings of hopelessness.
- Loss of interest in things that you usually love
- Sleep changes: waking up early in the morning or oversleeping
- Weight changes
- Agitation or frustration
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Increase in physical aches
- Reckless behavior
What can I do if I’m having these issues? What will my provider do?
Providers screen all individuals for signs of depression, so this is a great opportunity to discuss this with your provider. If he or she does not let them know some of the problems you are having.
They will probably assess when did these issues occur and for how long have you been dealing with these issues. Most diagnosis of depression occur if a person has been having signs and symptoms for at least two weeks.
Your provider will rule out any physical causes of your depression. He or she will so a physical exam and probably draw some blood. Low levels of certain hormones (thyroid) and vitamins (b12, folate, vitamin d) can imitate depression.
Click Here for an online screening tool
What can I do if I am given a diagnosis of depression?
First thing to do is to understand what is depression. We have free e-books that discuss depression in more detail. You must understand that depression is a disease that needs to be treated. You cannot run from it or believe that it will get better with no treatment. Remember not confronting the issue will cause depression to get deeper. Depression can strike as one breakdown or it can be a reoccurring event.
Second thing to do is to discuss with your provider what can you guys do as a team to help your issue. Do not let your provider just stick you on a medication without proper education and a proper gameplan.
- Psychotherapy teaches men how to deal with negative thoughts and return to a normal way of thinking. It is important to keep appointments and to take them seriously. This treatment option is best for people with mild to moderate depression.
- Cognitive therapy: is a form of psychotherapy that teaches you how to convert negative thoughts into positive thoughts.
- Behavior therapy: is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on changing behaviors
- Interpersonal therapy: form of psychotherapy that discusses how relationships affect your mood.
Medications are also prescribed to help people with depression. These medications may be given to people at any stage of depression, if a provider thinks it will help the person. There are many classes of drugs that help with depression, but I will focus on the most common here.
SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors): One of the most common medications given to treat depression. “SSRIs work by increasing positive emotional processing over time, resulting in an overall shift in mood” (Healthline). SSRIs also decrease inflammation which has been shown to be related to depression.
One of the major things to remember with SSRIs is that it can take 6 to 8 weeks to shift your mood. It is very important to give the medication time to shift your mood. Never stop taking a medication without discussing it with your provider.
Remember Serotonin affects how you deal with your emotions
- COMMON SSRIs:
- Escitalopram (Lexapro)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
SNRI (Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors): work by increasing serotonin in the brain and it increases norepinephrine in the brain. Increasing the serotonin in the brain has the same effect as a SSRI, but increasing norepinephrine causes an increase in energy and alertness.
SNRI can also be used to help chronic pain.
venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
There are more drug classes for depression but for this blog we will stick to these two. If you want more information on other antidepressants comment below
REMEMBER THESE MEDICATIONS ARE TO BE TAKEN AS PRESCRIBED NOT WHEN YOUR FEELING DEPRESSED. THEY DO NOT WORK IN THAT WAY.
YOU MAY HAVE TO CONTINUE THE MEDICATION EVEN IF YOU ARE FEELING BETTER. BECAUSE DEPRESSION RELAPSES.
Understand what is depression: loss of pleasure on doing things you love and feelings of hopelessness.
Why is it important?: Depression affects your mental, spiritual, physical, and sexual health. If left untreated it could lead to suicide.
What are my options?: Psychotherapy and medications. The best treatment is psychotherapy and medications together.
Questions for Provider…
- What should I do if nothing is helping?
- What is the number to the suicide hotline?
- Who are my support members who can help me?
- How long do I need to be on this medication?
- What are the side effects of the medication?
- Where can I get therapy or counseling?
- What is the next step if the medication does not help?