For many decades now, depression has been recognised as an illness that inflicts many more people than are ever diagnosed with it. Most of those earlier decades there were still some people who cast depression off as a self imposed diagnosis, largely to escape reality and ignore responsibility. However in recent years it has become very obvious that depression is so many things, but it is not self inflicted, nor is it an escape from reality.
Men has been the latest subject. Men for whatever reason are less likely, far less likely to admit or even accept that they are depressed, or are suffering from depressive symptoms. It is easier to shrug it off and put it down to having a bad day. In fact there are still a lot of baby boomers who will advise you to just get on with life and forget about what it is that is troubling you. This is half the problem.
Depression covers a wide range of symptoms. There are also various types of the illness, some more serious than others, some treatable with therapy, and others needing medication, even hospitalisation. Just one symptom of depression is sadness, but not just any old sadness. We get sad at different times, and appropriately so. When the family pet dies, or someone just loses out on a gold medal, or when we have watched a sad movie.
Being sad when there is no immediate reason to be that way, is a problem. It means you are not happy, and to the point of emotional breakdown, so there has to be something wrong, right!? This “could” be a sign of depression, but it in no way confirms a case of depression. Lack of motivation is another common symptom of the illness. Lack of appetite or dramatic changes in a person’s eating habits, are also considered potential symptoms of the illness.
For men, it would seem that until this current generation, men would generally consider admitting to depression, would be a sign of failure. The fear is that they will not be thought of as sane, or a man. In some ways, as a man, I could relate to this, but I wonder if the same anxiousness would not apply to women as well. The fact that deep down most people suffering from depression want to talk to someone, yet they keep things bottled up, only adds to the severity of the depressive symptoms.
A few people still think that this is not a real illness and that it is a form of weakness or admission of failure. This is simply not true. It is a real illness with real effects, and it is certainly not a sign of failure.
With the right treatment and support, most people can make a full recovery.