Guest Post: Depression and the Strength of Asking for Help
Men suffering from depression often struggle to ask for help. Asking for help is widely perceived as a weakness among men, which prevents them from getting the care they need. While vulnerability may hurt a man’s self image, receiving effective treatment could dramatically improve his well-being. “More than 6 million men in the United States have at least one episode of major depression each year,” according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. We need to encourage men to be more proactive about asking for help.
Asking for help is intimidating, especially for something like depression. The first step in the recovery process is admitting to yourself that you have a problem, which can be very difficult. Once you recognize you are suffering from depression, you can seek support from trusted friends and family. Asking for help should be seen as a sign of strength and self-awareness, but unfortunately it is often thought of as a sign of weakness.
When men don’t ask for help and suppress their feelings the consequences can be devastating. Depression not only affects the individual, but also impacts their relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. Here are some ways to deal with depression.
During a visit with a doctor or therapist, they will ask you questions about your mood and any major behavior changes to assess your symptoms and come up with a treatment plan that works for you. Finding a professional that you connect with and trust is essential to the healing process. A psychotherapist can help you cope with troubling thoughts and feelings and work with you to develop healthier behavior patterns. A doctor may recommend antidepressant medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. It is important to note that antidepressants often take weeks to have an effect.
Regular exercise can significantly boost your mood not only for the short term, but also for long-term depression. According to several studies reviewed by Michael Otto, a psychology professor at Boston University, and his colleagues, “exercise could be a powerful intervention for clinical depression.” A healthy diet can also improve symptoms of depression. Eating nutrient dense foods while cutting back on saturated fats, caffeine, and alcohol can positively affect your mood and improve brain functioning.
Restful sleep is proven to be good for both your mind and body. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep each night for adults and suggests maintaining a consistent bedtime routine. There are no quick fixes for depression, so be patient and have faith that this difficult time will pass. Trust your support team and remember asking for help is a great strength.