In order to start a better life, we must get rid of the idea that men have to be the strongest, as well as the stigma surrounding depression in men.
David A. Quebradas
Television series, social networks, and movies have contributed in recent years to an increase in conversations about mental illness. There has also been a focus on men. For example, visits to therapy groups have been added to the narratives of popular characters such as Captain America, and big producers have decided to tell stories focused on how depression evolves in men, as is the case in the series Normal People.
These are ways of normalizing the reality of many men who are also victims of a macho culture where they are not “allowed to cry,” explains psychologist David Quebradas. “There are some who, from a young age, have heard that they must be strong, that they cannot be sad, that they need to be the ‘alpha male’ type who are capable of solving everything. These ideas are negative, and words have a lot of power.”
Likewise, Quebradas states that this leads men to feel insecure about their behavior and what they think they can or cannot say. “That’s why they do not seek help or tell anyone about those thoughts in their head. They also fear receiving a diagnosis that will stigmatize them. Some people would rather hear about other illnesses than be told they have depression. As a result, something that could have been mild becomes a chronic illness.”
Empathy and understanding
Support from the family, the partner, and friends plays a particularly important role in the process of diagnosis. When the person is already aware of their symptoms, it is important to recognize them and identify the first warning signs that something is not working properly. The specialist mentions some symptoms, for example, if you have been feeling constant unease, sadness, or feeling that nothing makes sense for almost a month. Also, if you no longer enjoy the activities you used to love. He also mentions physical signs, such as a feeling of tiredness that does not go away, lack of sleep, or eating problems.
“People often associate depression with a sad face, but that’s not always the case. There are many ways to express it. Constant irritability, caused by even the simplest things, can also be a sign. Another idea that we have to change is that a person who looks happy and has ‘everything’ cannot suffer from an illness like depression,” states the psychologist.
Therefore, the professional recommends that if someone with depression is expressing their emotions or ideas of hurting themself, the first reaction should not be to “show them all the good reasons they have for living. That is just disapproving what they are feeling. The important thing is to understand, ask: Why did you feel like that? What made you think about that? What would you like to share?” It is impossible for family and friends to put themselves in their shoes. The best thing they can do is listen, give support when seeking professional help, and follow a healthy lifestyle.•
Five steps that encourage a better lifestyle
- Learn to rest, to sleep. Have an adequate sleep hygiene. This way not only energy is recovered, but with rest the body and the brain also considerably improve their state.
- Eat well in order to have the energy you need to carry out the day’s routines. It is essential for mood and proper brain function.
- Exercise. It helps everyone feel much better about their body. It also creates positive changes in the brain.
- Cognitive training. Work on attention, memory, problem solving. Implement activities such as mindfulness (focus on the here and now), or conscious breathing to channel emotions.
- Maintain social relationships. Family and friends, the social nuclei surrounding the patient are essential for support during their most difficult moments. Having good relationships helps to keep them calm and reorganize.
30 minutes of physical activity per day (150 minutes per week) help improve the symptoms of depression and anxiety.