Depression

Depression is characterized as a mood disorder that generally leaves a person feeling “down in the dumps.” This can include sadness, worry, helplessness, worthlessness, guilt, and others. On top of experiencing depressed emotions, people with depression may have develop sleeping problems, changes in appetite/ weight, anhedonia, and thoughts of suicide. All of this should not be new news, most people experience depression at some point in their life, and our society likes to think we have a pretty good handle on knowing what depression is and looks like. However, we live in a society that openly accepts depression in women more so than it does men. The classic portrait of a person with depression paints of picture of a woman crying. Women are known to be more likely to acknowledge their depression and have it treated. This could be through the use of things like therapy, antidepressants, or even learning yoga. So where does this leave men in the picture? Often men to not display or acknowledge the typical emotions associated with depression. Depression in men is not the classical illustration of a person crying out for help, it manifests different symptoms such as anger, substance abuse, stress, overworking, and reckless behavior. This is discussed in the blog post Depression in men: A Dad’s Story of Male Postpartum Depression. He discusses his experience with postpartum depression, and the shame he felt because of it. Culturally speaking, postpartum depression is known a “girl thing” – not something that the father is supposed to experience. However, with more research we are finding out that a lot more men have depression than ever thought before, and part of that is due to the social image that has been created around depression. As far as seeking treatment goes for these men, how is one supposed to be treated if he cannot recognize he is suffering from depression? I think it would be beneficial to the management of depression in men and women to restructure our cultural image of depression. If men were more readily able to see their depression/ postpartum depression and acknowledge it, this would lead to better outcomes for families. Research has shown that fathers who are less depressed are better fathers and their children have better life outcomes. Further, I think understanding male depression could benefit aspects of treatment. Personally, I think believing and healing go hand in hand. That is because I know I am a lot more likely to feel better if I think something will make me feel better (e.g. going on a bike ride, calling my mom, trying new food. etc). And on the flip side if I think any one of those things will make me feel worse, it probably will. This same example was displayed in the film Placebo: Cracking the Code. A women thought she was receiving an antidepressant in a trial, but in reality she was getting the placebo. The result? Cured of her depression. The mind and the culture we live in are powerful aspects of our lives, and can have real effects on our health. In the case of male depression, I think our cultural structure of masculinity has influenced the manifestation of depression in men to appear more masculine. Our culture has a problem with vulnerable men, so instead of appearing vulnerable in their depression they are more likely to be withdrawn and angry. That is why belief is key to treatment, if men fail to believe they are depressed how is one supposed to treat it? This is why we should be putting effort into understanding how the experience of illness can be different between males and females. If we put in this effort maybe more men will be able to believe they can get better, and then actually feel better.

 

References

Postpartum Men. Accessed July 23, 2014. http://www.postpartummen.com/index.html.

Stone, Katherine. Postpartum Progress. Accessed July 23, 2014. http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/04/16/when-dad-has-postpartum-depression/.

Tartakovsky, Margarita. PsychCentral. Accessed July 23, 2014. http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/04/16/when-dad-has-postpartum-depression/.

Wikipedia. Accessed July 23, 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depression_(mood).

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Matt Meranda says:

    I’ve had a significant amount of experience dealing with depression throughout my life; I’ve consoled friends who have been diagnosed, I’ve dealt with the feeling personally, and I deal with the condition in a professional setting. I tend to think my perceptions of this illness are fairly open-minded though also rather skeptical (so, complicated). I understand that a diagnosis of clinical depression is a serious matter and I’ve certainly seen its most severe manifestation in some very close friends. I have also seen however, many people claiming to be “depressed” without actually being clinically diagnosed (I am especially sensitive to this situation in that, I consider using the word “depressed” lightly as somewhat of a disservice to those who truly have a mental condition). While certainly people may go through periods of depressed mood, I think that these periods complicate the issue of differentiating an individual who is truly depressed from one who might simply be in a passing compromised emotional state. The complication arises of course, in the fact that this condition is one diagnosed primarily based on sufferer narrative and symptomatic diagnostics. I’m not exactly sure where I stand on the issue of male post-partum depression, because undeniably men are not subject to the significant hormonal fluxuations that accompany a woman’s pregnancy and giving birth. I find it reasonable however, that men may suffer from shortly post-birth depression (of varying levels), but due to distinct reasons from that of a mother.

  2. Colleen Drabek says:

    I had certain biomedical and cultural perceptions when it comes to depression and specifically male postpartum depression. From a cultural standpoint I didn’t even know that male postpartum existed. This is because culturally we always tend to see women as the ones affected by child birth. When changes happed in a person’s life after the birth of a child, we usually tend to associate this new change with the mother’s life rather than the father’s. After reading the course materials and this blog post, it has become clear that this is not the case. Depression is just more accepted in women and this is why it “shows up more”. In reality it is probably just as common in men but they don’t show it as much.
    My biomedical perceptions about depression are that a person with depression will simply be given an antidepressant and they will feel better. This is not always the case. Sometimes, all it can take for a person to feel better is a placebo. The belief that they are receiving help for their depression could indeed help them. Sometimes it is possible that actual antidepressants or a placebo will not help a patient.
    Friends, family, and social institutions influence these perceptions. When you grow up you usually take in information that is around you. If you grow up and never hear about men having depression, and only hear about it occurring in women through conversations with your friends and family, then you are more likely to think like this. It is important to educate yourself on such matters because what you “hear through the grapevine” might not always be the most accurate information. Social institutions also play into this. This can be seen by the fact that depression commercials usually show women that are sad rather than men. This social perception, which we “absorb” undoubtedly, alters how we think.

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