Our culture is slow to discuss the impact of depression, but this mood disorder affects thousands of Americans each year. According to the American Psychological Association, 9 percent of men in this country experience symptom of depression, but just 1 out of 4 of those men seek out professional treatment.
Considering that depression is linked to even more dangerous health problems, including suicide and overdose, it’s important for our culture to start a more honest and understanding conversation about depression. This conversation must also recognize the cultural factors that prevent individuals, particularly young men, from coming forward and being honest about their symptoms.
This overview of depressive disorder and the unique experience of young men dealing with this condition is a helpful resource for families. Using this information will make it easier to decide on how to move forward when the family faces a depression diagnosis.
The Truth About the Disease Called Depression
Much of the misinformation surrounding depression is related to its classification as a disease. Some individuals are unaware that depression can be caused by measurable neurological changes in the brain. Others believe that the disease is the result of individuals “not trying hard enough” to be in a better mood.
The truth is that a long list of complex, interrelated chemical and psychological factors contribute to depression. Potential factors include:
- Faulty mood regulation by the brain
- Genetic vulnerability
- Stressful life events
- Other medical problems
The very first step toward battling depression in young men is to recognize and validate that their struggle is a real medical problem. There are several cultural barriers that discourage discussion about chronic depression in men. Family members should not create more roadblocks to success with their own bias and skepticism.
Men’s Depression Must Not Be Ignored
As noted above, just a fraction of the thousands of young men who struggle with depression feels confident enough to get help from a professional. Why the apprehension about consulting the help of an expert to address a critical health condition?
Much of this resistance comes from society’s expectation that young men should be confident and strong. This expectation conflicts with the misinformed perceptions that many people have about those who receive men’s depression treatment and/or help with a substance abuse problem.
The reality of the situation is that no one would consider an athlete as “weak” if they get help from a nutritionist or muscle specialist. Receiving help and recommendations for health problems that start in the brain means tracking down the appropriate specialist, and in this case, that means a mental health professional.
Failure to treat an individual who is struggling with depression can result in an even worse situation, both for the person battling the disorder and for his or her family.
Depression Can Be Deadly
It is not uncommon for individuals who are deeply depressed to become self-destructive. The issue grows when family members are unresponsive and the young man, in turn, becomes even more withdrawn. In fact, there are multiple ways depression can put a young man’s life in danger if these symptoms continue to go untreated.
Here are just a few of the worst-case scenarios:
The overlap between those dealing with depression and those struggling with drug abuse is significant. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America noted that nearly 20 percent of Americans suffering from a mood disorder like depression also abuse alcohol or drugs. Therefore, families must not be negligent in seeking dual diagnosis substance abuse treatment for men.
More than half of the individuals who commit suicide were also battling major depression, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This is just another reason why loved ones must be proactive when a young man opens up about his depression.
People who are depressed and individuals struggling with drug abuse tend to make rash, impulsive decisions, especially when they are under the influence. Whether it’s getting behind the wheel of a car or cleaning a firearm, there are just some activities that shouldn’t be attempted until after treatment has begun.
Common Causes of Depression in Young Men
Scientists are still debating exactly why young men become depressed. Part of the reason the debate ensues is that so many different, yet interrelated, factors can add up to the mental disorder known as major depressive disorder.
Researchers have, however, nailed down many of the traits most associated with those who are depressed or who suffered from depression later in life. Common traits of what causes depression in young men include:
Negative Thought Life
The negative thought patterns and hopelessness that characterize common forms of depression are ones that can be learned. Children can be taught hopelessness by discouraging life situations or by the negative influence of adults in their lives. Eventually, this lifestyle of negative thought can evolve into a full-blown depression problem.
Traumatic Childhood Event
Traumatic events, ranging from the violent to the sexual, leave a lasting impression on a child. In order to reconcile these events, a young mind may be forced to begin operating in an unhealthy manner. This turn of events could lead that child to depression in young adulthood. This is another example of how early recognition and men’s depression treatment can prevent bigger problems from developing.
Experts still aren’t sure about the exact mechanism, but there seems to be a hereditary element behind depression. That means if a parent has battled depression, then there is a high likelihood that one of their children will also face similar issues. Lack of awareness about this hereditary risk is yet another reason depression goes ignored and untreated.
Body Chemistry Breakdown
All sorts of scenarios, including major hormonal imbalances that occur as a result of prescription medication use, can interfere with the brain’s central nervous system. Unfortunately, many of these breakdowns result in depression and other serious mood disorders. It’s just another reason why the symptoms of depression must be recognized and treated as soon as they arise.
Depression Starts Early
Depression isn’t something that a young man can will away from his body. There is no weakness in seeking professional help to treat depression, only an opportunity to heal and move forward. Loved ones can help stave off these issues by learning about the causes and symptoms of depression early on, and then speaking up when they recognize a problem.
The first step toward is getting the most current information about treatment. Individuals can learn more about how to search for men’s depression and addiction treatment by getting in contact with us. You can also discover more by visiting the many other resources we offer on this website.