November is Movember. To finish the month where we focus on men’s health, we’re going to explore depression.
Everyone feels sad or low or moody at times. But depression is more than just a low mood. Some people experience these feelings for long periods of time, and sometimes without any apparent reason. It’s a serious condition, and it affects both physical and mental health.
For men, admitting to having depression can be hard.
There’s the mad thought that men are supposed to be tough, able to take charge, be self reliant, and not have emotions. “Man up”, they’d say if a man exposed an emotion. Thankfully, times have changed. But it can still be difficult for men to acknowledge that they have any health problem, let alone anything along the lines of mental health issues.
According to the stats at Movember, 1 in 2 Australian men have had a mental health problem at some point in their life. 1 in 8 men will experience depression in their lifetime.
Unfortunately, too many men try to tough it out and cope with depression on their own. Untreated depression and mental health conditions can carry a high risk of suicide. The stress experienced when depressed can often distort thinking – it becomes harder to seek help or find solutions to problems. On average, 6 men take their life each day in Australia.
what’s going on ?
Just feeling sad or down is not depression. But if you (or a friend) has felt miserable, most of the time, and lost interest in usual activities, for more than two weeks, then it may be depression.
Signs and symptoms (source Beyond Blue) that may be seen by someone with depression include:
Behaviour – stopping going out, withdrawing from family/friends, unable to concentrate, not getting things done at work/school, reliance on alcohol or sedatives
Feeling – irritated, guilty, overwhelmed, sad, lacking confidence, frustrated
Thoughts – of failure, fault, worthlessness, nothing good ever happens
Physical – tired, sick and run down, headaches, muscle pains, digestion problems, sleep issues, change of appetite
Everyone experiences some of these at some time, but it does not necessarily mean that it’s depression. Similarly, people who are depressed will not have all these symptoms. Professional medical help is needed to assess properly.
And there’s no clear cause of depression. For some, a difficult time in life may be the trigger. For many, it’s a build up of a combination of things or continued difficulties over time. Sometimes, there is no obvious cause.
Risk factors for men to develop depression or anxiety include health problems or medical illness, relationship problems (including family conflict or separation/divorce), employment or work problems, emotional losses/disappointments, or drug/alcohol use.
The toughest of men can experience depression, and it’s no sign of weakness to ask for help.
Not everyone is the same
The guys over at Man Therapy shared a great mind health model that was developed by Canadian Mental Health Commission’s Working Mind Project. The model (summarised in the picture above, more detail here) shows that both physical and mental health varies along a continuum, sometimes things feel on the up, sometimes things feel a little down. Recognising where on that continuum someone is, there are different strategies that can help.
If a person’s health feels like what’s described in the “green” zone, then fantastic ! Try to stay on top of things, and look out for any changes of mood if life feels like it’s moving to the yellow…
If feelings are more “yellow” then some DIY strategies could help. The Man Therapy page has a huge list of things that can help – taking a walk, going camping, trying yoga (you don’t need to be good – no one’s watching you), cooking, drinking water, treating yourself to ice cream, adopting a dog (but remember that dogs are for life – so maybe borrow a friend’s dog for a walk !). Bowen Therapy’s not on their list, but I believe it should be…
If the descriptions in the “orange” or “red” zones feel too familiar, then that’s when a health professional is needed. Your Local GP should be the first stop, where they can help with medication if needed, and help to link people with the right person to talk with.
The person reading this may not be the person who is depressed. Talk with your friend, listen, let them know you are there for them. Check in regularly, and ask if they’re ok. Offer to go out for a walk, or off to a movie, or whatever they tend to enjoy for relaxation.
But, if they seem in a really bad way, the list of resources for urgent help in Australia is:
Emergency services/ambulance = 000
Lifeline = 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service = 1300 659 467
For non-urgent help:
MensLine Australia = 1300 78 99 78
Bowen Therapy to help support depression
Bowen Therapy alone is not the answer to helping depression, but it’s a great supporting therapy.
Feeling wound up and stressed is a common symptom of depression. When anyone is wound up and stressed, every problem feels unsurmountable, that there is no solution. Bowen helps to calm the nervous system, taking it out of that fight/flight/freeze mode and into a far more relaxed state. Ways forward and away from depression have more chance to be found.
People often comment how tall they feel after a Bowen Treatment. Helping muscles and posture, the body becomes more upright – looking and feeling more confident. Being less hunched, there’s also more space in the lungs for fresh air and deeper breathing – and clearer thinking.
Depression can also manifest itself in physical issues. Shoulders tensed up around the ears. Clenched butt and hamstrings. Or maybe the tummy is tight and the body is curled up with nausea or digestive problems. Bowen can help with those too.
If a friend is over-stressed or has depression, consider sending them for a Bowen Treatment… Simply Bowen Therapy also has gift certificates to give them a little help.