In U.S. culture and around the world, men are taught to hide real feelings and suppress emotions deep down inside, which is one of the major reasons depression in men is underdiagnosed and undertreated. Men are less likely than women to ask for help when it comes to depression. Many don’t even realize there’s a problem. There is a discrepancy between a man’s perception that he may need help and actually seeking it. As men develop more emotional familiarity, they can learn to experience feelings, address them, and cope more effectively.
A residential depression treatment center can provide the counseling and psychotherapy that men need to better understand why they’re feeling depressed, how to manage troublesome emotions, and develop a healthier mental outlook.
Why Men Don’t Seek Help for Depression
Gender stereotyping plays an insidious part in how men learn to deal with their emotions. There are many influences at work. The first is family and immediate caregivers who teach males how men should conduct themselves in family life. Then there are societal pressures around how men are supposed to show up in the world. And then there is the media, which is filled with commercials, movies, TV shows, and representations of men who are tough, have things under control, and respond with aggression, never with vulnerability.
There is the implication that men should not be affected by emotional things. It all adds up to making men feel bad about themselves when they don’t match those expectations and creates a barrier to asking for help. As with everything, awareness is the first step toward healing, and it can help men and their partners have a better understanding of depression.
6 Reasons Why Men Don’t Talk About Depression
They Don’t Know How to Ask
Statistically, women tend to suffer from depression in larger numbers, but they also are more likely to identify symptoms and seek professional and medical help. Diagnosing depression is a process of narrowing things down and eliminating other conditions. A therapist will ask questions like:
- Are you having difficulty sleeping?
- Do you feel sad or down?
- Are there changes in appetite?
- Do you have any thoughts of harming yourself?
If a man is unable to ask these questions and describe his feelings accurately, it can be difficult to get proper help.
Sadness Is Taboo
One of the main criteria for diagnosing depression is sadness. Men are not as likely to talk about “sadness” unless there’s been a death, which then makes it acceptable. It’s not something that men typically feel comfortable with. It often boils down to gender stereotyping, in that men are more often raised with family and social messages of what is appropriate for boys versus girls.
Crying Is Forbidden
- Tears are a common expression of the internal pain of depression, but a man who cries may be called a wuss or worse. They learn from an early age that shedding tears is unmanly. The United States is not the only place where being an alpha male is celebrated. Many cultures believe males should be tougher than females, and this can create many levels of emotional constriction. Showing emotions through tears is often considered unacceptable to men and to the people around them, so sharing their pain is risky.
Emotions Are Not the Common Vernacular
Men tend to say archaic things about feelings, such as, “You shouldn’t be feeling this, this is not OK.” Or they say nothing at all. Not only are they uncomfortable talking about their feelings, they lack familiarity with the uncharted area of emotions. If men are locked into beliefs based on stereotyping, it can be difficult to get them talking. They lack the skillset. They have to develop those skills and practice them.
They Tell Themselves to Just Get Over It
Men often make excuses about reaching out for help because they truly believe their emotions should not be an issue. Men often feel strange about having emotional pain. It takes work to help them realize sadness could be a response to an old trauma that’s been triggered and that it’s wired into their system through their experiences from the past.
It Gets Masked by Addiction
Using alcohol or other drugs or turning to sex or other activities can make people feel good in the moment and take the pain away. While this might provide short-term relief, it can lead to long-term addiction and depression. Men often struggle with addiction because they don’t know how to express their pain or ask for help.
Promises Behavioral Health Can Help Men Recover from Depression
The bottom line is that all men need to take care of their emotional health just as they do with physical health. Talking about depression and seeking help is an important step in regaining control of your life. It’s essential to find a professional who understands why men don’t talk about depression and can provide the right type of care. Promises Behavioral Health is here to help men who are struggling with depression—call 844.875.5609 today to learn more.