Battling depression in men
By William Smith
Men and women handle stress in very different ways. Women tend to open up more easily and to share their feelings with friends. Men tend to push their troubles aside or to the back of their minds which can result in an unhealthy ‘bottling up’ of emotions.
As a result more and more men are becoming isolated, depressed, lacking in self-esteem and even resorting to substance abuse.
Dr. Michael Gillman is the Men’s Health Consultant at St Andres’s War Memorial Hospital and he has just written a very interesting article of the subject of depression and anxiety in men on the Lifestyle website.
Gillman says ‘Bonding with other guys over a drink or a fishing rod can be a great way of diffusing frustration and having a laugh, but in most cases, it doesn’t really get to the heart of the problem a bloke might be facing. Some of us would be very surprised to learn that our closest mates may be experiencing extreme levels of stress.’
He goes on the tell us that men can be either physically or psychologically stressed, or both. Stress is a necessary mechanism that helps us handle threats. Chronic stress, however, can lead to decreased immune function and increased risk of infection.
If stress is causing a problem in our lives it’s time to make some life changes. Mismanagement of stress is debilitating and can be found in the following signs and symptoms. Gillman says that if you experience any of the following signs you should seek advice from your GP:
Physical Signs and symptoms
As outlined in the article (please see symptoms of anxiety page for more on this):
- Chest pain
- Racing heart
- High blood pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Diminished or increased sex drive
- Muscle aches, such as back and neck pain
- Stomach cramps or indigestion
- Weight gain or loss
- Skin problems
- Headaches or dizziness
- Clenched jaws and grinding teeth
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Increased perspiration
Psychological Signs and Symptoms
- Sadness and depression
- Withdrawal or isolation
- Mood swings
- Restless anxiety
- Irritability, anger, decreased anger control
- Overeating or anorexia
- Feelings of insecurity
- Decreased productivity
- Changes in close relationships
- Increased smoking, or use of alcohol and drugs.
Here are Dr Michael Gillman’s tips to help you to manage your stress levels:
- Cut down on caffeine and alcohol. Artificial stimulants can make you feel more anxious
- Try to find time to exercise. Even a short walk in your lunch hour can help you to unwind
- Talk to your friends about what is troubling you. If you can’t do this then writing down your problems in a journal can help to externalise your troubles
- Try to look on the bright side of life. A small change in your attitude can make negative things seem more positive.
- Find a chosen way to relax. Time spent away from stressful situations can be enough to alleviate further stress. Hobbies, reading, listening to music or just sit in the garden
- Drink more water. The benefits of drinking water are endless. The body needs water to function properly and by drinking more of it we can generally feel better
- Have a regular bedtime routine. Getting a good nights sleep is essential to our mental (and physical) well being. If you have trouble getting to sleep try listening to relaxing music.
Sometimes our anxiety or depression is at such a peak that even the word ‘relax’ can trigger feelings of anxiety and panic. If you do not feel able to try any of the above suggested stress management tips then you should get advice from your GP. Remember that help is available if you can just reach out as a first step to recovery.