Still in the Shadows: Men and Depression

There are many ties that bind my new boyfriend and me. We both love Paul Simon, apple butter, soy milk when getting coffee from Starbucks, and so on. But another one is our personal experience with depression. My BF is also in treatment for chronic depression. Since we both take bupropion SR (Wellbutrin; I do take a few more other concoctions), we jokingly refer to them as “candy for the soul.” But as with many men, it was a long and hard road that he’s traveled for him to even realize that he was clinically depressed and in need of treatment. Because I obviously don’t know what it’s like to be a guy and go through depression, my plan is to interview him and tell his story about his own pursuit to mental wellness. What needs to be mentioned here, though, is that he is actually one of over 6 MILLION men who go through depression each year.  As I prepare my interview with him, I thought I’d provide some current available information that gives an overview on men and depression.

NIMH has an e-brochure that broadly details Men and Depression.  It outlines the symptoms, the causes, how family and friends can help, and other pertinent topics (Here’s the PDF version). There’s also a pamphlet called “Real Men. Real Depression.” Both of these publications are available in Spanish, and if you want a paper copy, you can obtain them free of charge as well.

One of the pages had a very succinct paragraph in summarizing men and depression:

An estimated six million men in the United States have a depressive disorder-major depression, dysthymia (chronic, less severe depression), or bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness)-every year. Although these illnesses are highly treatable, many men do not recognize, acknowledge, or seek help for their depression. While both men and women may develop the standard symptoms of depression, they often experience depression differently and may have different ways of coping. Men may be more willing to report fatigue, irritability, loss of interest in work or hobbies, and sleep disturbances rather than feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and excessive guilt, which are commonly associated with depression in women. Also, tragically, four times as many men as women die by suicide, even though women make more suicide attempts during their lives.

Before I post my interview with my boyfriend, I posted below some real stories from six men about their experiences with depression (which are also from the NIMH website). 

Jimmy Brown

Jimmy Brown, a firefighter, is developing a peer counseling program to help police and firefighters deal with stress and depression.
Patrick McCathern

Patrick McCathern, 49 years old, recently retired after 26+ years as First Sergeant in the US Air Force; devotes most of his time to helping other people.
Rodolfo Palma-Lulión

Rodolfo Palma-Lulión was born in Chile and came to the United States as a child; he recently graduated from the University of Michigan and is now working for the University.
Paul Gottlieb

Paul Gottlieb was a publisher in the art world, with a knack for turning museum catalogues into international best sellers. Sadly, Paul died of a heart attack in 2002, barely two months after this interview.
Rene Ruballo

Rene Ruballo , 44 years old, worked as an urban police officer for over 20 years; he recently retired and lives with his wife and 5 children; he is hoping to attend culinary school and open a restaurant in the near future.
I hope to continue the discussion on men and depression through this journal.

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