Depression in men – A Movember special

Written by: Dr Justin Sauer
Published:
Edited by: Cal Murphy

November is Men’s Health Awareness Month, with men all over growing a moustache for Movember. At Top Doctors, we are doing our part by publishing articles highlighting men’s health issues, such as prostate and testicular cancer. Another huge issue, which people can be reluctant to talk about is mental health. Top psychiatrist Dr Justin Sauer talks depression in men:

6 Quick facts

 

  • Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental health disorder in the UK.
  • 3 out of 4 suicides in the UK are men.
  • Depression can manifest in a number of different ways, but men remain more reluctant than women to seek help.
  • Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50.
  • Depression can be treated with talking therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.
  • In a crisis, you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or the emergency services on 999

 

Depression – Don’t suffer in silence

 

Many people don’t like to talk about it, and sometimes it’s hard to even recognise the symptoms, but the truth is many men and women around the world suffer from depression. Far more than simply feeling sad for several days, clinical depression is a constant state that can manifest as hopelessness, anger, numbness, physical discomfort and a number of other symptoms that add up to an acute sense of misery with life.

Sometimes, the lows can be overwhelming, and the feeling of profound hopelessness can lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts. This is an essential time to seek help, because depression is treatable and the low moods do improve.

Depression is an illness, like any other; it is not a sign of weakness and can affect anyone, whatever their status in life. Sometimes it occurs because we are just ‘wired’ that way. At other times it is because something in our lives has been so upsetting.

It is so important to recognise the symptoms of depression and seek help, rather than keeping it to ourselves. Listen to loved ones who probably can see things clearer and may be able to highlight the symptoms to you.

 

10 Signs to watch out for

 

  • Irritability, anger, anxiety
  • Feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Feeling empty or numb
  • Lack of concentration/memory problems
  • Trouble sleeping (either sleeping too little or too much)
  • Fatigue/tiredness
  • Nutrition issues – lack of appetite or overeating
  • Losing interest in things that used to be important, e.g. work, family, sex, etc.
  • Feeling unable to meet responsibilities
  • Aches, pains, cramps, headaches and even digestive problems can be physical manifestations of depression.

An eleventh, and the most serious symptom of depression is suicidal thoughts. If you are feeling suicidal, or are experiencing any of the symptoms above, there are always people you can talk to.

 

“Boys don’t cry”

 

While women are often more open to talking about their feelings, men have traditionally felt a need to appear “strong”, and so have suffered in silence. Even today, you have probably heard unhelpful phrases like “man up” and “stop being such a girl” bandied around. This attitude is an obstacle for those who need to seek help – very often, talking about your feelings with your doctor, a specialist, someone you trust or an anonymous helpline can be the key to starting your recovery.

As bad as things get, it’s important to remember that the situation is never hopeless, and there is always someone you can talk to. Reaching out for help is the hard part, but also the most important.

Movember

In recent years, growing a moustache in November has been a way for men to become walking billboards for men’s health awareness. This is not limited to testicular and prostate cancer, but for a number of other issues, importantly including mental health.

 

By Dr Justin Sauer
Psychiatry

Dr Justin Sauer is a highly-regarded London-based psychiatrist specialising in stress-related conditions, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, memory disorders, mild cognitive impairment and dementia. He was recently voted an NHS hero for his work with his patients and colleagues and practises at a number of prominent clinics in the capital including Parkside Hospital. He is regularly invited to lecture and teach on psychiatry and has been published in numerous peer-reviewed publications. He has written three books on psychiatry and is a member of the Society of Authors.

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