What Are Some Steps Men Can Take to Be More Proactive About Their Mental Health?

by Anil Keswani, MD

Men often see depression as a weakness and feel they have to be the “stronger” sex. They may be concerned that admitting that they feel down, hopeless, worthless or unmotivated is not “masculine.” In addition, men are rarely comfortable talking about their feelings, so they keep it to themselves.

But the truth is, more than 6 million men in the U.S. have depression. It can strike anyone at any time, regardless of your job, education or financial status.

Admitting you have depression is not a sign of weakness; in fact, it takes strength and courage to ask for help. If left untreated, depression can lead to personal and financial difficulties. Men who do not get treatment for depression may risk their jobs, their family relationships and even their lives. Once depression is diagnosed and treated, recovery can begin.

The first step is to talk to someone. Often just confiding is a good friend can help; you now have someone who can support you in getting treatment. Next, talk to a doctor, who can do an exam to rule out any other conditions and get you on the right track to treatment. You may find that “talk therapy” with a counselor, antidepressant medication, or a combination of the two will help you overcome depression.

If a male friend or loved one has depression, you can help by offering support, understanding, and encouragement.

Listen to what he has to say and don’t try to “cheer him up” or tell him to shake it off. Exercise outdoors may help, so invite him to do something active (but don’t force anything). Often, it will help to remind him that he will feel better with treatment, and to hang in there.

This Scripps Health and Wellness tip was provided by Anil Keswani, MD, corporate vice president of ambulatory health care and population health management.