Are you struggling with daily life? Have you lost interest in anything including your hobbies, family, and work? Are you easily irritated? Do you feel sad, worthless, angry or even aggressive? Have you been drinking a lot of alcohol lately? Do you have a hard time sleeping? How long have you been feeling this way? Several weeks or months?
If you answered yes to some of these questions, you might have depression mate.
Everybody can feel sad, angry or irritable at some point. But these problems, more often than not, pass after a couple of heavy days. It’s a fact that men and women can experience depression differently. If a man has depression, he has an extreme difficulty getting through daily life. He has lost the capacity to care or take interest in anything. Compared to women with depression, men usually feel exhausted, irritable, and often have difficulty sleeping.
Here are some more notable differences, numbers, and observations of depression among New Zealand and Australian men:
Unlike women, men often don’t confront their feelings. They won’t acknowledge that they’re depressed, and more importantly, they won’t do anything positive to help them deal with it. Even worse, they may intentionally resist getting any form of mental health care. especially when it’s in a mental health facility.
Depression is seen as a type of weakness by many men, especially among male New Zealanders and Australians. A lot of men are ashamed to admit they have depression because of the stigma of it and they’re afraid of how people might see them if they knew. They may not seek help until late in the process when things like alcoholism or drug addiction have settled in. The staunch culture of New Zealand and Australian men frequently leads them to suffer in silence.
The cause of depression among men is usually a combination of factors like stress, genes, brain chemistry, and hormones.
According to the New Zealand Health Survey (NZHS), more than half a million adults in New Zealand (>14%) have been suffering and diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives (2012). More women were found to be depressed than men (17.9% versus 10.4%).
Approximately two million Australian adults live with depression (2015). This figure has doubled since 2007. It’s estimated that on average one in five Australians will experience depression at some time in their lives; one in six males and one in four females. Female depression rates are higher than men (10.4% compared with 7.4% respectively).
In New Zealand, depression is one of the main causes of suicide. In 2015, there were 527 suicides in New Zealand. Unfortunately, the exact percentage of suicide secondary to depression was not determined. More males committed suicides compared to females (384 versus 143) in 2015. The majority of these cases included unrecognised signs and symptoms leading up to their suicide. More than half of them started with a tragic life event followed by a period of long depression ultimately culminating in suicide.
In Australia there are around 3,000 suicides per year and men make up seventy-five percent of them. The major causes of suicide include depression, social isolation, and at least one stressor in life like the loss of a loved one.
Should men have regular mental health check-ups?
A mental health assessment gives your doctor a complete sketch of your emotional state. It also determines the state of your cognitive functions (how well you think, reason, and remember). Your doctor will ask you several questions. He might ask you to write down the answers. Your relationships and how well you get along with the people in your life will also be taken into consideration. In addition, your overall physical appearance (how well you look), behaviour, and mood are assessed. Some laboratory tests may be requested as the need for them arises.
Your mental health assessment can be done by your regular doctor, a psychiatrist or a psychologist. The results of the assessment are kept confidential and of course, explained to you. But keep in mind that a complete mental health assessment isn’t done routinely during a visit to your doctor, if you visit for something else like a stomach ache. What doctors usually do is a brief and abbreviated version of a mental health exam.
If you have some of the signs and symptoms above and have mentioned them to your doctor, a complete mental health assessment or check-up can be arranged. So, it’s important that you tell your doctor everything about the things you’re feeling. Only then will he be able to decide which assessments and lab tests or even imaging are best for you. The severity of your condition (depression) will determine how often your mental health check-ups will be. A treatment plan may include medication, counselling, cognitive behaviour therapy and Psychotherapy.
The Bottom Line
Men seldom seek help and guidance about their depression. Most of the time, they’re reluctant to discuss anything about it. We all must realise that depression is a treatable and preventable disease. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. It can affect anyone, regardless of age and well-being. With the proper treatment and support group, men can overcome their depression and enjoy life. If you know someone who may be suffering from depression, extend a helping hand and get them the proper care they need. You can also check out our article on natural support for depression here.
If you are having suicidal thoughts reach out for help to a family member, loved one or a helpline:
Free counselling service in New Zealand, call or text 1737 any time
New Zealand Depression Helpline 0800 111 757
New Zealand Lifeline 0800 543 354
Mental Health Crisis Team New Zealand 0800 611 116
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78 call any time
SuicideLine Australia 1300 651 251 call any time
BeyondBlue Australia 1300 22 4636 call any time
BeyondBlue Australia 1300 22 4636 call any time
Suicide Call Back Service Australia 1300 659 467 call any time.