Myth 1: Depression mainly affects women. Although many websites you visit still maintain depression affects more women than men there is ample evidence that men are equally affected. It’s true that women are more likely to visit their doctor and report depressive symptoms but this could be said for a variety of issues as women are more likely than men to visit a doctor. If we examine just a few of the statistics we find that male suicides outnumber female by 4 to 1 in North America, Europe and Australia. For every six women over the age of 65 who attempt or commit suicide, 40 men over the age of 65 will do the same. According to the charity help line The Samaritans half the calls they receive come from men.
Myth 2: Symptoms of Men’s depression are the same as Women’s. In some respects this is true but the way men manifest depression can be very different to women. Men, for example, are five times more likely to turn to alcohol. He may not cry or blame himself for everything but lash out and blame others. He may overwork, find distractions in sport, or sexual encounters. Family, friends and even medical professionals may focus on these activities as the problems rather than the underlying cause of depression.
Myth 3: A properly depressed man couldn’t work or function. It will certainly be more of a struggle but the evidence suggests most men will try to maintain their role of breadwinner and carry on. Most estimates suggest that around 70-80% of depressed men continue in the workforce. Of course many celebrities, sportsmen, and others in positions of power and influence have admitted to their depression. The silent majority press on through their emotional pain. Paradoxically it could well be the fact that they maintain relationships with work colleagues and continue to move around that helps, especially in mild to moderate states of depression.
Many men are socialized in putting up masks and behaving according to stereotypes of masculinity. Some become highly adept at masking their true feelings and in this way perhaps do themselves and other men something of a disservice.
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Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.