Our society has become one sided in it's views. As a result it has aided in the detriment of the American male. To believe today's imagery would be to believe that the only issues of significance are those of women. I am not against women's rights or equality between the sexes. I am against our societies pseudo-equality. Which unfairly and unjustly tries to atone for it's past. Our negligence of balanced coverage about topics and issues have caused the average Joe to remain unaware of severe health issues that affect either him or someone he knows. Like the fact that more than four times as many men as women in the United States commit suicide.
Research has indicated that suicide is often associated with depression. Depression is a brain disorder that affects the body, mood, thoughts, sleep and eating habits. Because, depression has a chemical affect on the brain it influences self perception, which can lead to sadness and feelings of worthlessness and guilt. Someone suffering from depression cannot just "get over it" or "shake it off". If not properly treated depression can last for days, weeks even years.
The alarming rate of suicide among men may reflect the fact that men are less likely to recognize the signs of depression. In focus groups conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, men described their own symptoms of depression without realizing they were depressed. Depression is a serious medical condition that reportedly affects 7% of men and 12% of women every year. Although the percentage in men is lower than in women, some researchers question whether the disparity is truly as great.
They have questioned whether the standard definition of depression and the diagnostic tests based on it adequately capture the condition in men. There is evidence revealing that while both men and women can develop the standard symptoms of depression, they often experience depression differently. Men have different ways of coping with the symptoms. They may be more willing to acknowledge fatigue, irritability, loss of interest in work or hobbies and sleep disturbances rather than feelings of sadness, worthlessness and excessive guilt. Substance abuse often accompanies depression in men.
Men often turn to drugs and alcohol to help numb what they feel. Patrick McCathern, First Sergeant, U.S. Air Force Retired was quoted as saying: "I'd drink and I'd just get numb. I'd get numb to try to numb my head. I mean, we're talking many, many beers to get to that state where you could shut your head off, but then you wake up the next day and it's still there. Because you have to deal with it, it doesn't go away. It isn't a two hour movie and then at the end it goes 'The End' and you press off. I mean it's a twenty four hour a day movie and you're thinking there is no end. It's horrible."
Aside from drugs and alcohol men may become frustrated, discouraged, angry, irritable and sometimes violently abusive. Some may throw themselves compulsively into their work. Others may engage in reckless behavior by taking excessive risk and putting themselves in harm's way. Many men are concerned, that if their employer or colleagues found out that they were seeing a mental health professional it would have a negative impact at work.
They fear that being labeled with a mental illness would costs them the respect of family and friends or their standing in the community. As a result many men are less likely to seek treatment for depression; but very likely to suffer in silence, or even commit suicide. Unfortunately we live in a society were one group is encouraged to be aware of seemly innocent signs that may point to more severe conditions.
To feel free to express their feelings in the name of good health. While yet another group is made to feel insignificant and conditioned to believe that such expression of their feelings is a sign of weakest and inadequacy. If there is a man in your life displaying any of these signs, seek the advice of a professional. You just might be saving his life.
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