Depression is the constant prolonged sadness that tends to hide its victims from the world. And it seems to have found a special interest in acquiring male partners. According to recent Kenyan studies, suicide among men is on the rise. But why? Before answering the question, we must first understand what depression means.
The common signs of depression are sadness, emptiness accompanied by changes in life views, memory, judgement, and reasoning. But for a person to be labelled depressed, they must present five or more of these signs for two or more weeks.
In the course of my practice, I have found that our gender differences influence the activation of depression and how we seek help. Men love to diminish their own and each other’s experiences and emotions due to the world’s expectation of what a man stands for. This conditioning forces most men not to share their problems but instead, to deal with them in silence. Some of life’s stressors like abusive relationships, work or financial problems, or life changes such as the loss of a loved one are common culprits. Other stressors can be physical illnesses like diabetes, HIV, cancer, loss of a body part, etc. However, genetics can also be a contributing factor. A family history of mental health problems can increase chances of depression. Most men will want to deal with their problems silently thus leading to delayed response getting help.
Some of the red flags to look out for include:
· Changes in tone of voice (being rude)
· Continuous anger outbursts
· Withdrawing from social gatherings
· Withholding information
· Loss of sense of purpose
· Poor eye contact
· Feelings of worthlessness
· Overeating or poor appetite
· Engaging in high-risk activities like drinking, drugs or gambling and a need to function with them
There are two ways to treat it.
1. Talk therapy AKA psychotherapy. This is done with a psychologist or a counsellor.
2. Use of medicine. The psychiatrist will conduct a medical diagnosis and an anti-depressant will be prescribed to balance out the brain chemistry. In addition, both these treatments can work hand in hand. Other times one works better than the other depending on the scale of depression the person has.
Rubie Miseda is a psychologist and founder of Africa Jipende Wellness