Why is depression in men not diagnosed early?
Most family members and colleagues do not recognise depression in men. Even doctors may fail to see the signs of depression in a man because they do not always present in the classic way. Most men are also reluctant to discuss mental and emotional problems. They have been brought up to believe that it is ‘unmanly’ and inappropriate. They fear that they will lose the respect of their family, friends and workmates. For this reason, they often downplay and mask any symptoms of depression rather than come out and ask for help coping with it. Most African families resist mental health treatment. They believe that one only visits a psychiatrist if he is ‘mad’.
In addition, most employers have a bias towards employees with mental health problems. This forces employees to hide their mental health issues from their employers because they risk damaging their careers. Stigma: there is a lot of stigma surrounding mental illness. No one wants to be labelled as ‘the man with depression’. Ignorance: there is little awareness on mental health issues. People do not realise that depression is no different from diabetes or hypertension and all need treatment.
Although it is important to be supportive of a spouse suffering from depression, do not tolerate abuse. Angry, abusive, depressed men have maimed and killed their partners. In addition, emotional abuse can leave one scarred for life.
Suicide is often thought of as a coward’s way out of depression. It is also labelled as ‘selfish’ and, even, foolish. In truth, taking one’s life is one of the most difficult decisions a man can make. He realises that his actions will devastate those around him but he feels that he has no other way out of his misery.
Clinical depression can consume one’s mind and the dark thoughts and emotions become too overwhelming.
If a man around you exhibits suicidal tendencies or attempts suicide, do not put him down or ask him to ‘suck it up and deal with his emotions like a man’. His behaviour is a cry for help, do not ignore it.
Look at the men around you. Could they be suffering from depression? If so, reach out and help them. It could save their lives.”