In Darryl “DMC” McDaniels’ new book, “Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide,” he discusses his history with mental health Issues, Depression, and addiction. He’s not alone in dealing with mental health issues. Jim Carrey has talked about his struggles with depression and addiction. Robin Williams ended his life in 2014, ostensibly due to mental illness. Former NHL player Theo Fluery has made no secret about his history with sexual abuse and mental health struggles. He said, “Reached out for help and my healing began.” Men are not immune from mental health diseases, but many men believe that seeking help is a sign of weakness.
We all have bouts of sadness and times when we may not feel completely normal, which are all part of life’s normal ebbs and flows. Then, there are other times when you might struggle with mental health problems that can lead to serious consequences. Men, women and children can all experience mental illness, but symptoms can manifest themselves differently. When you can’t work, sleep, eat or have fun because of thoughts that are affecting your day-to-day life, don’t try and diagnose the problems on your own. A mental health professional is the only one who can truly determine if you’re suffering from depression, anxiety or another mental health issue. There’s no shame in getting help for a medical condition.
Symptoms of Depression
Most people associate a prolonged sadness or lack of interest in normal activities with depression, but there are many other symptoms that can manifest if you are depressed. You may be fatigued or have a loss of energy. Some people experience guilt and worthlessness or have problems concentrating. There might be a change in appetite or in your weight. Unfortunately, these symptoms could be from any number of health problems, not just mental health issues. To make things even more complicated, men may exhibit other symptoms that are not typically associated with depression. Some men feel physical pain or become angry. Researchers have even found that men who are depressed exhibit reckless behavior.
Depression is different for each person. Even within one individual, symptoms can vary in intensity over the course of the illness. Recognizing that there is a problem is the first step in treating the disease. There are many treatment options available. What works for one person may not be effective for another. Talk therapy is often very effective in stopping the progression of depression, but many people may need more intensive therapies or medication to find relief from the symptoms. Unlike an infection that goes away after a round of antibiotics, depression isn’t cured so easily. But it is treatable.
Help Is Available
The Canadian Mental Health Association has many resources if you’re dealing with mental illness in your family. Whether it’s you or a loved one, there are places where you can get help. Toronto is gearing up for a mental health conference in September, to discuss mental illnesses and addiction and how it affects all of us. The conference will feature more than 150 mental health experts from across the country who are coming together to create dialogue about changes in mental health. It is open to the public, but registration is required.
Advocates believe that speaking out about mental health issues is the only way to change public perception. Men have been taught to “suck it up” and just keep going on when things get tough, but depression isn’t going to go away by ignoring it. There is a stigma surrounding mental illness in our country. The only way to change that is to speak up and step out of the shadows. Men, especially, have to speak up and seek help.