Depression, or the more common “blues”, affects men when they don’t even know they’re depressed. Dealing with loss of interest in the usual things, fatigue, hopelessness, despair, and other symptoms of depression can hinder your forward progress, and in some ways debilitate men.
The problem with men who are suffering from depression is that, often times, they don’t know they’re depressed and don’t know how to ask for help. The stigma of getting help sometimes prevents them from feeling better, and so they don’t seek out a doctor or a therapist.
There are immediate things that you can do to help feel less depressed, even if you’re on the fence about getting professional help.
- Admit there’s a problem: unless you come to terms with the fact that you may be suffering from depression, nothing’s ever going to change. Talk with a loved one, like a family member or spouse, about the possibility that you’re depressed, and stay open to the process of seeking help.
- Try mild to moderate exercise: a light, regular exercise is known to alleviate some symptoms of depression, and the vitamin D you’ll get from the sun’s rays can help stave off some of those depressed feelings.
- Develop a meditation practice: there are lots of types of forms of meditation to choose from, but the one that I like best for you health and healing is mindfulness meditation. Developing a regular practice of five, 10, or even 20 min. of sitting meditation a day over the course of time can directly would rewire the brain in ways that promote happiness. Mindfulness meditation can help you deal with those irrational, stuck beliefs that drive depression, so if you haven’t meditating mindfully, considerate. There are a number of good books and CDs on the topic, so check Amazon.com or your local library.
- Watch what you’re eating and drinking: stimulants such as caffeine or depressants such as alcohol can directly affect your mood, as well as your body. For some, too much sugar for refined carbohydrates (think white flour products, potatoes and white rice) can leave your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride, and when you crash, your mood plummets. Consider omega-3 fatty acids to promote better mood, and seek out unrefined carbohydrates, good fats and proteins, and lots of fruits and vegetables. Food is definitely mood, even for the most carnivorous man.
- Talk it out: even if you’re not interested in coming through the counseling door to talk, there are plenty of people in your life that you care about you and want to help you get better. Take a risk, and reach out. You may be surprised that they’re willing to want help you or listen to you. Don’t fall into possible false thinking that you’re alone, or that nobody cares, or that you don’t want to burden anyone with your problems.
- Sit with negative emotions: it may sound contrary to feeling better, but it works. When you can sit with and hold a negative emotion – the physical emotion in your body – it will often dull or diminish in size. Too much of depression is a swirling of negative thoughts with negative emotions, which leaves us frozen in the depression. When depression goes “cognitive,” or stays in your head, you disconnect from the felt sense of it in your boddy effectively disembodying yourself. You can work your way through the negative emotion if you sit with it. Try it for a minute or two when it comes up.
- Seek out professional help: whether it’s your family doctor or a psychiatrist for depression medication and monitoring, or talk therapy with a professional counselor or therapist, seeking out professional help works where others close to you can’t. In the case of counseling, it’s often in a neutral, third party environment. Sometimes, your friends and family want the best for you, yet may be part of the problem. A trained counselor can help you sort out your feelings, and get to the root of your suffering.
Depression is not a life sentence. Sometimes, with the right help and attention, it’s effects can be greatly minimized. Do what you can for yourself, and get the support you need. When depression or the blues are dragging you down, it’s tough, but there is hope and help, and all it takes is for you to ask.