Mental Health has been receiving fantastic coverage recently. Prince Harry discussed the grief and depression he experienced after the death of his mother when he was 12 years old. Prince William also released a skype call with Lady Gaga where she discussed her mental illness and thanked Prince William for his charity work with Heads Together and
Both of the Princes have remarked on how difficult it is for men to open up about mental health. Mental illness is no differnet to physical illness yet it is often seen as a sign of weakness.
1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year (mind.org.uk). So what does it mean to have something like depression? What does it feel like? How do I know if I am depressed? I’ve listed the main symptoms below. Any GP or Psychiatrist will ask you about these so it’s worth being honest with yourself and to them. The professionals are there to help you.
Feeling sad or “empty”
The feeling of emptiness is one of the tell-tale signs of depression. I find that this stems from the pessimistic outlook which depression feeds itself on. Instead of hoping for the best and anticipating success, you start thinking that nothing is good, which leaves you both sad and empty. You might also feel that nothing in your life can make you feel fulfilled and that you don’t get excited about anything, instead, remaining in a constant state of apathy.
Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or angry
For many of us, depression is linked to feeling sad, pessimistic and passive. While these are indeed symptoms of depression, it can also manifest itself in other ways – some men are likely to feel irritability and anger instead. In a man who is depressed, these emotions will be constantly bubbling just under the surface, causing him to snap at the smallest things.
Loss of interest in work, family, or once-pleasurable activities, including sex
Much like the feelings of sadness that accompany depressive disorders, many will also find that they lose interest in things that used to interest them, which is known as anhedonia. Men who experience anhedonia will lose interest in their hobbies, their passion for their work and even their enjoyment of sex. Interestingly, while not enough research has been conducted into this sphere, it is thought that we experience anhedonia not because our pleasure receptors are blocked, but because depression prevents us from sustaining the feelings of enjoyment for long periods of time.
Feeling very tired
People who experience depression will often find themselves exhausted. The main reason for this is that depression can often cause sleep problems, whether insomnia, or interrupted sleep, making it very difficult for the person to rest. Additionally, fatigue forms a vicious circle with depression, as it causes people to isolate themselves, become more inactive and as a result even more depressed.
Not being able to concentrate or remember details
Memory loss and lack of concentration are often associated with depression and can have a particularly disruptive effect on a person’s professional and private life. The reason that we lose concentration and memories when we are depressed is because the parts of the brain that are responsible for storing memories get affected by depression. While at first, this can be mildly irritating, over time, memory loss and lack of concentration can cause misunderstandings and arguments in personal relationships, as well as the inability to complete seemingly straightforward tasks at work.
Not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
The vast majority of people suffering from depression will experience sleep problems at one point or another, especially not getting enough sleep. Whether it is because they struggle to fall asleep as thoughts keep going through their mind or that they keep waking up at night. While the link between depression and insomnia isn’t entirely understood, it is well known that lack of sleep has a negative effect on mental health, which is why sleep is essential if you are suffering from depression, as it gives your mind a chance to recover.
How can a partner help
If you know or live with a man who is suffering from depression, the first and most important thing to do is to encourage them to speak and to listen to them when they do. Many men can struggle to vocalise their feelings, or think that they are being weak if they do – encouraging him to speak about his thoughts and feelings can help him gain perspective and make him more hopeful.
Another thing that you can do is to make sure that he doesn’t stay at home, sitting around and brooding on his thoughts. Try and get him to go out, engage with friends or do a hobby that he previously enjoyed. The more he does and the more he socialises with his friends, the better he is likely to feel in the long-term.
If you are in a relationship with a man who has depression, it is important that you isolate the condition from you and him. He wouldn’t normally snap at you or refuse to speak to you, while you wouldn’t normally feel worried or overwhelmed. It is important you separate these feelings and emotions from how you feel about each other, as otherwise, it can have a negative effect on your relationship.
Lastly, encourage them to seek help. You alone will not be able to ‘fix’ the problem, as depression needs professional treatment and thinking that you can treat it on your own will not only lead to nothing but can leave you feeling exhausted and unwell as a result. While it is essential that you are there for your partner, supporting them as much as possible, at no point should you think that helping them is a job that you alone can do.
Remente assisted in creating this list. Remente is a free-to-use personal development platform for individuals and businesses. The app combines psychology with brain and mental training to help users reach their full potential, complete personal goals, and lead a healthier lifestyle. Available to download on iOS and Android.