MOSCOW, September 27 (RIA Novosti) – Masculinity has been found to play a significant role in causing depression among men, psychologists from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) say.
About six million American men suffer from depression every year, yet few of them are likely to seek help from medical professionals. Traditional masculine traits, which confine emotional expression and encourage ideas of success, power and competition, often compel men to hide their emotions and avoid seeking help. This, in turn, can lead to depression, according to researchers from the NIMH.
Traditional signs of depression, such as sadness, worthlessness and excessive guilt, may not always characterize many men’s depressive periods. Instead, researchers have coined the term “male-based depression” to signify a type of depression which is reflected in symptoms including irritableness and anger, a loss of interest in work and hobbies, insomnia, and a higher likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse. When coupled with substance abuse, these symptoms can mask more commonly-recognized signs of depression, making them harder to detect and effectively treat, said Dr. Aaron Rochlen, a Psychologist from the University of Texas.
Untreated depression can result in personal, family and financial problems; in the worst cases it can even lead to suicide. Four times as many men as women commit suicide in the United States, which psychologists believe happens as a result of a higher prevalence of untreated depression among men.
Luckily, some men have started to re-interpret and expand traditional ideas about what it means to be a man. Instead of seeing the idea of seeking help as unmanly behavior, they have started to consider it proactive and responsible, breaking out of the masculine “straightjacket”, says Jason Spendelow, a Clinical Psychologist from the University of Surrey, as quoted by The Conversation. By re-framing the masculine narrative and getting support from others, men can effectively combat depression, especially when they experience severe symptoms, such as suicidal thoughts.
Spendelow believes that seeking professional help when depression persists for more than a few weeks is a good idea. Some men say more traditional “talking treatments” are not suited for them. Currently, however, there are a variety of therapeutic techniques that can be used to approach depression from different angles and are better suited to men. At the end of the day, psychologists say that it is important for men not to suffer in silence.