Mental Health Awareness Week – depression in men
Depression in men – it’s a topic that many people are unaware of and yet, in 2016, three-quarters of all suicides in the UK were men and today it remains the biggest killer of men under the age of 50. (Statistics from the Office for National Statistics).
However, men who suffer from depression are beginning to stand up and speak out; sharing their experiences and encouraging others to do the same. Aiden Hatfield, a musician and owner of clothing company IMWT Clothing (In Music We Trust) donates 50% of his profits to the MIND mental health charity. Furthermore, he has a rapidly increasing following on Twitter, 104k to date, and offers a relaxed weekly live session where he talks about depression and openly answers any questions his followers may have.
He has created a community of regular followers who are all offering each other support. It’s amazing to see and is a much-needed resource. Today, online communities and services are connecting people from all over the world and giving people access to help that they may never have had previously.
Aiden’s message is clear – it’s okay to admit that you have depression, let’s talk about it and share strategies for preventing and dealing with it. He is also a strong believer in the power of music in helping people to deal with whatever they may be going through.
Evidence shows that men find it more difficult to talk about their feelings and are less likely than women to seek help. Often, they may have strong emotions or symptoms but not realise that they are a possible sign of depression. The NIMH National Institute of Mental Health, in the US, states that different men suffer from different symptoms but they include the following signs:
- anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
- Feeling anxious, restless, or “on the edge”
- Loss of interest in work, family, or once-pleasurable activities
- Problems with sexual desire and performance
- Feeling sad, “empty,” flat, or hopeless
- Not being able to concentrate or remember details
- Feeling very tired, not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
- Overeating or not wanting to eat at all
- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
- Physical aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
- Inability to meet the responsibilities of work, caring for family, or other important activities
- Engaging in high-risk activities
- A need for alcohol or drugs
- Withdrawing from family and friends or becoming isolated
Men like Aiden Hatfield are encouraging others to acknowledge their depression and seek help for it. Treatments vary depending on the severity of the depression.
Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to reduce the recurrence of depression. However, anyone who is in the middle of a depressive episode is advised to wait until they are between episodes to undertake mindfulness training.
Throughout an 8-week mindfulness course, you can develop skills, including mindfulness meditation, which will help you to become more aware of yourself on a day-to-day basis, to notice any tensions that you have, thereby becoming better able to recognise any sign of depression and to catch it before it moves into a downward spiral. Being more mindful of daily health choices, such as exercise and healthy-eating, can boost your mood throughout the day, helping to prevent a recurrence of depression.
Whatever the root cause of depression, people’s biggest question is, “How do I cope with this now?” So come on – let’s raise awareness and provide services that will reduce men’s suffering, enabling them to live happier lives and, ultimately, change those shocking statistics!
Visit his clothing website: IMWT Clothing
Meet him here: Meet Aiden
Samaritans, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year: samaritans.org. If you need a response immediately, it’s best to call on the phone. This number is FREE to call: ☎ 116 123 (UK) 116 123 (ROI)
MIND, the mental health charity: mind.org.uk ☎ 0300 123 3393
Rethink Mental Illness: rethink.org ☎ 0300 5000 927