Research shows us that symptoms of depression in men and women can be very different. While women tend to show signs of sadness through crying, fatigue, irritability, excessive sleep/insomnia, and over/under eating, men often manifest depression through anger. Men can appear to be aggressive instead of sad, and because their symptoms may look different, they may be less likely to get the help they need from doctors, friends and family. Research also shows that men are less likely to talk about their emotions and are more likely to see their doctor for physical symptoms of their distress such as racing heart, tightening chest, ongoing headaches or stomach issues rather then to talk about what they may be experiencing emotionally. Both men and women may feel tired and lose interest in hobbies and can be vulnerable to using drugs or alcohol to cope with their symptoms.
Depression is a sign of “shut down” in our body, a response to unrelenting stress and/or trauma that has been unaddressed and suppressed our nervous system in a state of hypoarousal. When this happens we can experience an intense decrease in motivation and difficulty accessing our motivation system, making it especially challenging to take steps out of our depressive symptoms.
If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, or you are noticing someone you love is struggling you can offer support by helping him/her find a doctor or a mental health professional and then by helping them make their first appointment. Some might not be ready or willing to see a mental health provider. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, talking with a primary care provider may be a good first step toward learning about and treating depression.
Connection is key… connection stimulates our social engagement system. Go for a walk, reach out to a friend, get up and take a shower, decide you will do one thing today that feels productive. The truth is you do not have to live with the debilitating affects of depression. Even when you can’t see it or feel it… YOU are the only YOU this world has and we need you!
The National Institute of Mental Health www.nimh.nih.gov