Although cultural norms have started to shift, many men in the United States and around the world are taught from a young age to suppress their emotions, which is why depression among men is so underdiagnosed. Men are much less likely than women to seek treatment for all mental health disorders, especially depression. In fact, many men don’t even realize there’s a problem.
This is a slippery slope. Many men know how to hide depression and they may turn to substances to self-medicate, which could lead to addiction and other issues that affect quality of life.
Here are five reasons why men hide their depression:
1. They don’t know how to ask for help.
Women are twice as likely to experience depression than men, and although research suggests that biological factors are at play, we can’t ignore the cultural impact. Could women be more likely to experience depression partly because they’re more likely to identify symptoms and seek professional help?
Many men need treatment for depression, but they aren’t able to verbally express how they feel due to embarrassment or language barriers.
2. They lack the emotional language.
Many men don’t possess the language to speak about their emotions accurately, which is no surprise when you consider that their feelings go virtually unexplored. It can be incredibly challenging to get men to talk about their feelings just because they lack the skill to do so, but therapy can teach those skills.
3. Crying is off-limits.
Men learn from a young age that crying isn’t manly, and it isn’t in line with the alpha male stereotype. Showing any emotion, especially through crying, is off-limits. But it’s normal for tears to accompany discussions about depression and sadness. Still, a man who cries might be called weak or other names.
4. They dismiss their feelings.
Many men don’t seek treatment for depression because they don’t think their emotions should be an issue. Sometimes men feel embarrassed about experiencing emotional pain, and speak about it dismissively; like it doesn’t matter. But being in denial about your feelings or not taking them seriously only feeds into the stigma surrounding mental health.
5. They’re self-medicating.
Substance use disorder does not appear out of thin air. In many cases, it’s a result of a co-occurring mental health disorder. Although drugs or alcohol may relieve feelings of depression for a short time, they only cover up the underlying pain. Feelings like sadness, depression and anxiety aren’t pleasant, but they need to be experienced and confronted. Therapy can help men learn how to express their emotions and manage them instead of self-medicating.
Men are uncomfortable with the idea of expressing sadness and vulnerability, but confronting those fears is the best way to heal. With the right combination of talk therapy and, if necessary, medication, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to manage your depression and become more aware of your emotions.
Immersion Recovery Center’s men-only addiction treatment program addresses addiction through the male experience. Our unique approach fuses traditional, evidence-based treatment with alternative therapies that help men become more emotionally intelligent and self-aware, so they’re able to reintegrate into the community after treatment. Learn more about our services by contacting an Immersion Recovery Specialist at 561.419.3349.