Hey there Guys,
Today I wanted to touch on a very important topic, depression. Australian statistics show that one in six men will suffer with depression and recent studies show that these rates are even higher among gay men.
Combine this with the statistic that men have over a three time risk of lethal suicide, you can understand my passion for sharing this information.
Depression can be a silent disease, slowly creeping up taking away self esteem, enjoyment of life and energy. When depression hits men it can also lead to increased violence and aggression, substance use and social isolation that makes the disease worse.
While the good news is that there are very effective treatments for depression, without detection we are not able to start the road to recovery. Today I wanted to cover some of the key features that indicate a person may be suffering with depression.
What are the symptoms of depression?
Below are some of the major features that are common in people that are living with depression. Not everyone will have all the features, however many will have at least two of three. Remember that we all have our up and down days but if you notice you or a loved one has been suffering any of the following for more than two weeks, this may be a sign of depression.
One of the first indicators of depression is the disruption of sleep patterns. Two common disturbed sleep patterns include difficulty falling asleep and waking very early in the morning. Some people also have an increase in the need for sleep although they still report that, despite sleeping many hours, they do not feel refreshed.
Loss Of Interests:
Many people with depression report that they are just not enjoying life as much as they used to. Even activities that used to bring them much joy does not bring enjoyment. Loss of interests can lead to isolation when people are not attending their social outings they used to enjoy.
Feelings Of Guilt:
Depression can lead to feelings of worthlessness and guilt. Despite having caring loved ones willing to help, some people with depression feel they are a burden on their friends which can lead to further social isolation. Extreme depression can lead to persecutory beliefs that the sufferer “is a bad person” despite there being no attributable causes.
People living with depression frequently report feeling tired all the time, worn out and “over it”. Energy levels can drop to such low levels that even simple tasks such as showering and cooking meals are too big a burden. Despite encouragement by well meaning people, “getting up and about” can be just too difficult for some people to do.
Depression can greatly effect the ability to think and concentrate. People with depression can sometimes appear as vague or forgetful. Their ability to keep track of even the simplest tasks becomes harder.
Anxiety & Agitation:
Excessive or exaggerated worry is a common feature. Some people can become more irritable and “touchy” which can sometimes can lead to overt aggression. Some people with depression may find even the most minor comment or personal criticism to be a personal blow that can be very disturbing.
Often a difficult one to explain, psycho-motor retardation is when the body and the mind slows. The thought processes take much longer then normal, people take longer to complete tasks. Some people report these symptoms to be “like the mind and body are trying to run in sand” and “every task is just so difficult”.
Feelings Of Worthlessness:
One of the most crippling symptoms of depression is the feeling of worthlessness. Some people are so sad that they are not able to see that they are important members of their families and community. At the most extreme, people with sever depression can feel that life is not worth living and may even contemplate suicide.
Suicidality is a psychiatric emergency and if anyone tells you that they are contemplating ending their life this is to be taken seriously and help is to be sort immediately.
If you or someone you care for is feeling suicidal the best action is to either call an ambulance, or if practical to head to either the hospital or your family doctor immediately.
In Australia the number for an ambulance is 000 (triple zero) from a land line or 000 (triple zero) or 112 from a mobile phone.
If after reading these common symptoms you feel you or a loved one may be living with depression I urge you to get help straight away.
One good source of help can be your family doctor, community health service or local hospital.
If you are in Australia and would like to talk with someone via the phone some good numbers include:
- Lifeline – 13 11 14
- Men’s Line Australia – 1300 78 99 78
- The Salvation Army Care Line 1300 36 36 22
- The Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service 1800 18 4527
If you are outside of Australia, please contact your local hospital, community health service or you could even google “mental health help“.
A brief introduction to mental health first aid.
On a final note I just wanted to introduce the idea of mental health first aid. Despite many people being trained in first aid, very few have been given the skills to help people when they are acutely distressed.
If someone you know comes to you and mentions they feel sad, down or that life is not worth living, they have come to you for help. Research shows that more than half of people who have attempted suicide will seek help from a friend, loved one or family member before taking action.
If someone comes to you for help the most important things you can do for this person include:
- Listening and being there for them
- Believing them. So many patients have told me they tried to speak to a relative to only be told “it’s normal you’ll be ok” or “chin up, it will get better”. If someone has come to you for help it’s because they are not sure what to do. Dismissing what they have said does not help them and may make things worse.
- Help the person get the assistance they need. It’s not your job to solve the problem but simple actions such as listening and guiding the person to a trained professional can make an huge difference and even save a life.
If at any time someone states they have a weapon, or an immediate plan to harm themselves or anybody else, call the police or ambulance immediately. Rapid action saves lives.
Guys, this has been a heavy topic and I understand that you may have questions or thoughts.
Please feel free to drop a message in the box below and I will get back to you asap.
If this did provoke some thought I’d appreciate it if you could please hit the “like” button: this will help spread the message to your friends who may benefit.
Yours in good health.
Dr George Photo Credit: Samael Kreutz