7 Things You Need to Know About Depression
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Over six million men are affected by depression each year in the U.S. alone, but many don't seek treatment because they don't want to be seen as weak or defective. It's vitally important for men to educate themselves about depression so that they can recognize its symptoms and be prepared to seek help if necessary. Depression is influenced by your brain biochemistry, and that's not something you naturally have control over. Depression is a medical illness that you can't just 'get over' on your own. It may come as a surprise to hear, but depression isn't technically sadness--it's a loss of energy. And when energy is low, you are less able to cope and less likely to do other things that are necessary for a healthy physical and emotional life.
Most people don't realize it, but you can gain some control of your brain's biochemistry if it becomes dysfunctional, which can have a huge impact on your mood and behavior. That control comes mainly through medications, but lifestyle also plays a big role, too.
Depression is more prevalent than ever.
The number of people being diagnosed with depression is increasing--and that includes men. Studies show that each generation is more likely to become depressed than the one that came before it--and more likely to become so at an earlier age, too. Not surprisingly, antidepressant use continues to grow. You can be prone to depression because of your genetics, but also due to life circumstances.
Men experience different symptoms from women.
If you were asked to picture depression, you'd probably think of someone who is quiet, sad, apathetic, and lethargic. Those symptoms are characteristic of depression, but they're more commonly seen in women. Because most people don't realize that depression manifests differently between the sexes, many men fail to even suspect the true nature of what is bothering them. Women are likely to internalize their negative feelings and blame themselves for their problems, while men more commonly act out on their emotions. Depression manifests itself differently in men because their emotional circuits and brains are designed differently. So instead of getting tearful, a man who is depressed might become irritable, hostile, and fatigued. He might dive into his work or a hobby until he literally can't carry on. He's also likely to blame other people or other circumstances for his problems, rather than admit that he is experiencing troubling symptoms.
There's a connection between depression and stress.
Stress is so prevalent that we tend to ignore it and write it off as normal, despite the fact that we've all heard the statistics about how chronic stress can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health problems. But did you know that long-term stress can also increase your risk of becoming depressed? While depression can be related to genetics, it can also be caused by long-term stress--especially if you're not handling it well. When you're constantly worn down, anxious, and unhappy, you're essentially training your brain to be that way--and eventually, your brain's biochemistry becomes locked into this pattern. Exercise is the best mood manager because it naturally releases endorphins and plays a crucial role in mood management."
Depression can damage your physical health.
You may consider depression to be a disorder that's rooted in the brain. But that doesn't mean it can't affect your body, too. Depression is accompanied by a loss of energy. It can also cause muscle pain, joint pain, digestive problems, headaches, reduced sex drive, and more--and it's easy to see how those symptoms can disrupt your life. If you're depressed, it's very possible that you'll feel exhausted and in pain all of the time. It's actually not uncommon for patients to be misdiagnosed at first because they and their doctors think that the unpleasant symptoms have another cause. That's why it's very important to understand that depression isn't just 'in your head,' and to be completely open with your doctor.
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