For example, adherence to “strait-jacket” masculinity, might not only prevent getting treatment but also intensifies tactics such as hiding depressed mood and increasing risk-taking behaviours such as substance use.
So, if the prospect of seeking help makes you twitchy, what can you do about it?
Get out of the strait-jacket Research has shown that some men re-interpret and expand what it means to be a man in order to subtly un-hook themselves from the strait-jacket variety of masculinity. It may seem subtle to those on the outside but it’s a big personal step. Rather than seeing seeking help as an unacceptable behaviour, some see it as demonstrating an ability to be responsible, proactive, and practical. So rather than a sign of dependence on others, it can be seen as a responsible way of maintaining psychological health and responsibilities, by being an engaged partner, for example.
And in fact, breaking out of the strait-jacket could be seen as more masculine than falling into line with traditional expectations of not seeking help. Some men even see themselves as a “hero” that is “in battle” with depression as a way to preserve a sense of their masculinity while getting help. And when you’re experiencing severe symptoms, such as suicidal thoughts or being unable to work or even get out of bed, it can feel like a fight.
Focus on things you still do
Re-framing the masculine narrative can be supported through men’s relationships with others. The role of caregiver or provider is valued by many men. Seeking help can be seen as part of being able to do this rather than undermining it.
Small steps are still rewarding
Taking on responsibility for tasks previously given up due to depressed mood (usually in a gradual way) is a common approach to treating depression and is another way in which men can re-establish lost self-worth.
When you’re depressed, it’s important not to underestimate the boost you can get from small victories and accomplishments.
Professionals can help
Professional help should always be sought when depressed mood persists for more than a couple of weeks, is accompanied by significant levels of distress and/or impairment in your ability to carry out day-to-day tasks such as going to work or having a shower. Thoughts of self-harm or suicide are especially important warning signs that require immediate professional attention.
One approach called Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) emphasises, among other things, developing practical skills. This is one reason why CBT might be particularly suited to men. However, there are other approaches that focus more on other issues, such as understanding the role played by early life experiences. And, of course, medication can be a good option for people in certain circumstances. But whatever course of action is taken, it’s vital men do not suffer in silence.
source: livescience.com By Jason Spendelow