Discussions of PTSD aside, most men find it hard to talk about their inner feelings. This is not about those who have suffered terribly in conflict: this is about regular guys who suffer from depression and mental health issues. Some might occasionally feel irrational anxieties. Others are thrust into a black hole of depression from which they can hardly escape, yet at either end of the spectrum, the subject seems to be taboo. Is it simply that men are supposed to man up and tough it out, or is it that society has taught them to be ashamed of mental health problems? If tough guys can put their inner feelings in a box and shut the lid, they are liable to have deeper problems later on, so somehow we have to bring these issues into the open.
Educating ourselves on the facts is the key to lifting the lid on men’s mental health problems. Here are some statistics that show how pervasive these issues have become:
- 70% of male mental health problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence.
- 34% of male high-school students in Ontario, Canada, indicate a moderate-to-serious level of psychological distress (symptoms of anxiety and depression), and 14% indicate a severe level of psychological distress.
- Male Canadians in the lowest income group are three to four times more likely than those in the highest income group to report poor to fair mental health.
- Studies in various Canadian cities indicate that between 23% and 67% of male homeless people report having a mental illness.
- About 4,000 Canadian males per year die by suicide—an average of almost 11 suicides a day. It affects people of all ages and backgrounds.
For most men, getting what truly troubles them out into the open is the first step towards recovery. Don’t be shy about sharing the details. Merely talking with a sympathetic, non-judgemental friend is often enough to encourage a road to recovery. Long term, tinkering with details isn’t enough. Those with deep anxiety, despair and depression must get at the heart of these issues, and for that, they will undoubtedly need professional help. They should not be shy about seeking it, especially if they are still young. If counselling is not enough, many men may also need anti-depressants to treat their conditions.
How Do Antidepressants Work:
- Antidepressants work by raising the levels of chemicals, known as neurotransmitters, in the brain.
- Serotonin and noradrenaline are two neurotransmitters that have been related to mood and emotion.
- Neurotransmitters can also influence pain signals sent by nerves, which explains why certain antidepressants may help alleviate chronic pain.
The danger here is that while anti-depressants might alleviate some of depression’s symptoms, they don’t remove the underlying cause. To achieve relief or even a cure, therapy must be considered in conjunction with medications in treating severe mental health disorders.
What Are The Most Common Medications For Depression:
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
These are the most widely prescribed type of antidepressants, usually preferred over other antidepressants as they cause fewer side effects. An overdose is also less likely to be serious. Fluoxetine is probably the best-known SSRI (sold under the brand name Prozac). Others include citalopram (Cipramil), paroxetine (Seroxat) and sertraline (Lustral).
Noradrenaline and Specific Serotonergic Antidepressants (NASSAs)
These may be effective for some people who are unable to take SSRIs. The side effects of NASSAs are similar to those of SSRIs, but they’re thought to cause fewer sexual problems. However, they may also cause more drowsiness at first. The main NASSA prescribed is mirtazapine (Zispin).
Serotonin-noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
These are similar to SSRIs and were designed to be a more effective antidepressant. However, the evidence that SNRIs are more effective in treating depression is uncertain. It seems that some people respond better to SSRIs, while others respond better to SNRIs. Examples of SNRIs include duloxetine (Cymbalta and Yentreve) and venlafaxine (Efexor).
Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)
These are an older type of antidepressant, seldom recommended as the first treatment for depression because they can be more dangerous if an overdose is taken. They also cause more unpleasant side effects than SSRIs and SNRIs. Exceptions are sometimes made for people with severe depression that fails to respond to other treatments. TCAs may also be recommended for other mental health conditions, such as OCD and bipolar disorder. Examples of TCAs include amitriptyline (Tryptizol), clomipramine (Anafranil), imipramine (Tofranil), iofepramine (Gamanil) and nortriptyline (Allegro).
Feeling down occasionally is an entirely normal emotional condition. But long-term anxiety and depression must be treated, whether you’re still a teenager or a mature man. If you’re that guy, please don’t be afraid to seek professional help as soon as possible. At the very least, talk to a friend, counsellor, social worker or someone you trust.