February 22, 2007

An insightful look into men and depression

As a social psychologist who is interested in studying human emotions and interaction, I have to appauld Newsweek for making a cover story about male and depression. You can check out the details of the story at

One of the most notable statements from the article is "Although depression is emotionally crippling and has numerous medical implications—some of them deadly—many men fail to recognize the symptoms. Instead of talking about their feelings, men may mask them with alcohol, drug abuse, gambling, anger or by becoming workaholics."

Doesn't that ring a bell to you when someone tells you that they need to drink excessively to forget their problems, or someone telling you that they are angry at work or at home all the time? I am sure that you have heard that from many of your friends. Many men are refusing to discuss their emotional problems because they don't want to be viewed as weak or a betrayal of their male identities.

"For decades, psychologists believed that men experienced depression at only a fraction of the rate of women. But this overly rosy view, doctors now recognize, was due to the fact that
men were better at hiding their feelings. Depressed women often weep and talk about feeling bad; depressed men are more likely to get into bar fights, scream at their wives, have affairs or become enraged by small inconveniences like lousy service at a restaurant. "Men's irritability is usually seen as a character flaw," says Harvard Medical School's William Pollack, "
not as a sign of depression." In many cases, however, that's exactly what it is: depression."

My previous research also found that depressed men are more attention seeking than their peers. As a way to balance their self-inadequacies and guilt, they love to be praise by their male peers for a lot of seemingly deviant behavior: excessive drinking, drug use, having multiple sexual partners, getting into fights, yelling at their loved ones. This leads to many problems with family abuse (not just physical but psychological). Unsurprisingly, many times their women are the ones calling it quit and asking for divorce. They just can't stand having a husband who prides himself of the aforementioned "manly" behavior. Your male peers may praise you for what you do because they know that they won't do it. They want to see the consequences of what it should be like if they actually act out their thoughts (such as arguing with wives all the times, having multiple sexual encounters in a short period of time). It's like "I ain't going to take the risk to carry out the action but I do want to see the positive and negative consequences. So, I encourage my buddies to try it out and see what happens."

Anyway, if you think someone you know is hiding his emotions and expressing some of the symptons described above, it will be a good idea for you to encourage him to seek help. You should always be available to them if they ever want to talk about it. However, you will find most men aren't comfortable sharing this secret with their mates for fear of being rejected. Take some time to read the Newsweek's article online. I am sure you will gain some insights about this alarming health issue among men.

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