How do you express your depression?
Depression can look differently with different people. Each individual will express their depression based on their gender, personality, culture and individual factors. There is not a male or female form of depression, but each gender will have some unique characteristics.
It is important with any list to realize that not all men will have all of the characteristics to the same degree.
The seven ways that men show our depression:
- Men may become angry and irritable when we are depressed. It’s easier to identify and talk about anger rather than saying “I feel sad.”
- Men can blame others for their situation. Blame is way to focus on others rather than ruminating or taking responsibility for ourselves.
- Men cope with TV, sex and alcohol. These are normal behaviors, but when we use them to isolate or push others away, they can be a sign of depression.
- Men minimize emotions and circumstances. Men can brush off emotions and any circumstance that may have added to their experience. This is part of our socialization and it is unhealthy to minimize emotions such as depression.
- Men exercise control by trying to fix a situation. Men may offer strategies to improve ourselves, our work or other people. The only problem is that you can’t fix away a feeling.
- Men try to get busy and do something. Being busy is one way to ignore our feelings. Accomplishing a task can improve how we feel, but it will not get to the root cause.
- Men try to handle it on our own. Many men will try to do anything rather than talk about our stuff or ask for help.
More and more men are reaching out to each other, and asking for professional help. Modern men embrace our masuline emotions and our needs. A few simple ways to approach emotions is to:
- Acknowledge your emotion, but avoid labels. “I am feeling sad” is more workable than “I am depressed.” One is a feeling, the other is a condition. Feelings change, conditions stay with us.
- Take permission to feel whatever you feel: sad, happy, worried, pissed off. You can feel it, but you don’t have to act on it.
- Identify beliefs behind your emotions. For example, “I didn’t get the job I wanted, I suck at interviews” or “The project did not turn out like I wanted it to, I am a crappy leader.”
- Separate the emotion from the belief and give yourself one tangible thing you can do. For example, work at clearer communication, practice persistence, practice specific part of interviewing, or focus on what you can specifically influence in your own and other people’s behavior.
- Practice gatefulness: choose one thing you can be grateful for today and say it out loud. Remind yourself of that through out your day.
- Talk to someone you trust. It could be a friend or a counsellor. Often friends can be a huge support, but they may not have the skill level that a professional may have.
- Give yourself a break. Being hard on yourself could be part of the problem. Take a breath, practice some healthy self care.
First published by The Good Men Project
Photo by David Hurt