Over 5 percent of men in the United States have daily feelings of depression or anxiety—but a reluctance to seek help could mean the real number is much higher. Men tend to be more hesitant to talk about their feelings. They’re more focused on how they can fix or resolve their problems rather than talking about them.
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Looking out For Symptoms
When men won’t seek help on their own, their friends and loved ones need to be able to recognize the symptoms of depression, which can manifest itself differently in men than in women. In men, common symptoms often include:
- Concentration and attention difficulties
- Disrupted relationships
- Significant changes in emotions
Rather than seek help, men sometimes engage in risky behaviors, including drug and alcohol use, in response to these symptoms. And while women are more likely than men to attempt suicide, men are more likely to succeed, so recognizing the warning signs before they reach that level of severity is critical. The more expressive men can be, the more comfortable they’ll be. Having someone to listen, and being heard, can help.
To Treat The Symptoms, Find the Cause
The root of men’s depression is often work- or family-related stress, but it can also be linked to genetics or brain chemistry, in which case having someone express understanding emotions may not be enough to help. When issues come up, it’s always best to find out what’s causing the issue and find acceptance of it or treatment for it. The more quickly you deal with something, the better off you are.
Professional help and prescription medications help many men fight depression, but there are also things patients can do on their own to combat the condition. One way to avoid or lessen depression is to increase serotonin levels. Studies have shown that heightened levels of serotonin, a natural chemical in the brain, correspond with mood improvement. Exercise is good for both the body and mind. Physical activity can increase serotonin levels, so patients looking to ward off depression should find an activity they enjoy and stick with it. Exposure to bright light can also increase serotonin levels, so outdoor activities can be especially helpful.
If you think a loved one may be at risk for depression or suicide, contact PinnacleHealth Psychological Associates at (717) 231-8360.
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