Recognizing Depression in Men

Are you having trouble sleeping or do you feel aggressive, worthless, or frustrated? Have you lost interest in your work, family, or hobbies?

If you said yes to any of these, you might have depression. Depression affects both men and women, but men may experience it differently. Studies show that men with depression are more likely to show signs of anger, self-destruction, and irritability rather than displaying outward signs of sadness, like women.

Depression is an illness that can affect your brain, thoughts, mood, and daily activities. Because of the stigma and shame that surrounds mental health, men are less likely than women to acknowledge and seek help to treat depression.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depression interferes with one’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy most aspects of life over an extended period of time.

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There are several factors that contribute to depression in men. Men with a family history of depression may be more likely to develop it than those whose family members do not have the illness. One’s hormones also control emotions and mood, which can affect your brain chemistry. Additionally, any type of stress like an illness, loss of a loved one, or a difficult relationship can trigger depression.

While you should always seek the help of a professional if you begin to experience depression, the good news is that lifestyle changes like regular exercise, nutrition, and daily meditation are all practices you can incorporate into your routine to help heal it.

Exercise, for instance, releases ‘feel good’ brain chemicals, such as neurotransmitters and endorphins, and it reduces the immune system chemicals that can worsen depression. Exercising also increases your body temperature, which can calm and relax your mood. Go ahead and get sweaty! Working out reduces stress and boosts the body’s ability to deal with negative or overwhelming emotions.

Maintaining a healthy diet also decreases depression. Fresh fruits and vegetables like avocados, berries, mushrooms, and tomatoes are power foods that contain healthy fats that your brain needs to improve your mood.

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Incorporating five minutes of mindfulness and/or meditation also helps with every day mood problems and depression. Our brain is constantly going, but with mindfulness, you can train your brain to stay in the moment by breathing slowly and focusing on your breath. This can be done immediately when you wake up, before a meeting, or when you’re getting ready for bed.

If you think you might be depressed, one of the first things you can do is get in touch with your doctor or a mental health professional and talk about how you’re feeling. Give us a call at 312.666.3494 (city) or 847.666.3494 (suburbs) to make an appointment today.