Let's Hear it for the Boys! Real Men, Real Depression.
It's easier for men to acknowledge physical symptoms instead of their emotions - a popular perspective attributed by our current society. This is one of the reasons for the lack of attention given to men's emotions, especially depression.
Men go through tough situations in life, and also experience things like postpartum depression, hurt after breakups and or the loss of loved ones, and the borage of emotions that come from the loss of access to their children following a divorce.
"That is what depression does, it overpowers you, and it takes the wheel and it steers you away from everyone and everything you love and takes you down a dark tunnel. And when you're in the the tunnel it hugs you and tells "this is where you're supposed to belong." - Jake Tyler
Depression has a huge impact on quality of life in men (as well as women), but is often missed due to the popularized expected roles of masculinity.
In Canada, four out of five suicides are male. In the UK, men are three times more likely to kill themselves, and in New South Wales, Australia, suicide as overtaken car accidents as the number one cause of death in males since 1991.
Studies show that the under-diagnosis of depression is though to explain higher suicide rates in men.
The Diamond Male Depression Scale is a tool that was developed specifically to help differentiate and understand the expression in depression between genders. To access the full scale and article click here.
Sub-Scale 1: Emotional Acting-In Depression
This scale focused on feeling negative, stressed, empty, and other internal expressions of depression and included the following items from the full 51-item questionnaire:
d28 I feel I’d like to get away from it all.
d34 I feel that things are stacked against me.
d36 I feel stressed out.
d41 I feel hopeless about the future.
d42 I feel powerless to improve things in my life.
d48 I feel burned out.
d49 I feel empty inside.
d50 I feel tired even when there is no reason to be so.
d51 I have difficulty making everyday decisions.
Sub-Scale 2: Emotional Acting-Out Depression
This scale focused on such things as being difficult, irritable, angry, and other external emotional expressions of depression and included the following items from the full 51-item questionnaire:
d2 I have trouble controlling my temper.
d22 I am easily annoyed, become grumpy, or impatient.
d27 Other people “drive me up the wall.”
d29 When others disagree with me I get very upset.
d38 I have difficulty maintaining self-control.
Sub-Scale 3: Physical Acting-Out Depression
This scale focused on such things as violence, gambling, alcohol abuse, and other external, physical expressions of depression and included the following items from the full 51-item questionnaire.
d4 I have hit someone when I was provoked.
d8 I work longer hours because going home is stressful.
d11 I drive fast or recklessly as a way of letting off steam.
d12 If I’m feeling low, I’ll use sex as a pick me up.
d23 I have felt I should cut down on my drinking or drug use.
d31 I get so jealous or possessive I feel like I could explode.
You can see that the Sub-Scale 3 shows a marked difference between depressed males and females. Sub-Scale 1 and 2 show also demonstrate a generalized difference.
Some of the acting out and more physical behaviours typically found in men may manifest to avoid showing a more emotional side.
Being a man means being human. Feelings and emotions are inherently what make humans such incredible creatures.
So, here's an argument for expressing yourself.
The rationality of emotion:
Logical thinking is the what, while emotions are the why. Emotions assign value to what is worth wanting. Decisions without emotions can be just plain difficult! (Think of the last time you were not hungry, or really didn't care where you went for dinner, but were put on the spot to choose).
Emotions enrich our lives, but colouring in our world of facts with intimate and personal perspectives. They define our unique character through letting us know what makes us happy, surprised, angry, sad, etc. Our character allows us to we create our curiosities and follow our passions
Our lives become animated, interesting, especially with close relationships. Being able to express emotions can yes make you feel vulnerable, but will also help those around you open up as well, which fosters a deeper, more genuine connection.
Throughout history, depending on what the society was going through, the amount of emotionally expressive men have waxed and waned. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) enchanted us with his prolific works, calling out the deep emotions that men were also free to express.
To weep is to make less the depth of grief. -William Shakespeare
There were times when men were more silent, and had a demeanor of cool toughness. Think of wartime and how being more stoic would be a huge survival advantage over someone who wax constantly expressing their emotions.
It's OK to feel, and feel strongly, and in times of danger, not to show them at all. But it's important to talk about it, to share the things brewing inside of you because sometimes we just need help. We need help in seeing a different angle of the situation. We need help applying a more productive perspective and to move forward.
Learning to differentiate the patterns of depression in males and females, and learning to acknowledge hard emotions and express them gives us the tools to step up give the support needed quickly.
Note: Depression is a product of inflammation, not just a disruption of neurotransmitters which is the more common belief. To learn more on this, read a book called "This is Depression"
At The Dempster Clinic- Center for Functional Medicine, I offer a variety of approaches for finding natural ways to reduce inflammation and support mood that are customized to your individual needs.
Please take advantage of my Complimentary 15-minute Discovery Session, which is available for all prospective patients. This session can take place over the phone or at the clinic in person. It gives you a chance to learn more about the services I offer and how they can help you find your best health.
Please schedule an appointment today!
In good health,
Dr. Tamara Kung
Please contact a distress centre 416-408-HELP (4357) or seek emergency care (dial 911) if you are in a crisis and are feeling suicidal.
True to Our Feelings by Robert C. Solomon.
This is Depression by Dr. Diane McIntosh