Depression is under-diagnosed in men. Men are over four times more likely than women to commit suicide.

Your emotional and mental health has an effect on everything in your life, from your relationships with others and your career successes to how long you live.

STRESS

Stress is an unavoidable fact of life, and all of us suffer from it once in a while. When you’re feeling stressed, your heart beats faster, your blood pressure rises and your muscles tense. A little bit of stress is actually good for you. It can focus your attention, give you a sudden burst of strength to get out of a dangerous situation, motivate you to succeed and even stimulate your creativity.

After whatever caused the stress has passed, your heart rate returns to normal and you get on with your life. But when the cause of your stress doesn’t go away, it starts eating away at your immune system and increases your risk of developing a number of physical and mental conditions including constant fatigue, irritable bowels, trouble falling or staying asleep, back and neck pain, headaches and backaches, sexual problems, short-term memory loss, loss of appetite, inability to concentrate, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, anger and irritability, stroke, cancer, depression, stomach ache and indigestion.

Finding effective ways to cope with your stress is vital to your physical and mental health. Sometimes the best coping strategies involve making lifestyle changes:

Exercise, eat well and get plenty of sleep.

Take time to meditate, which can be as simple as setting aside 10 minutes a day to focus on your breathing.

Talk to someone about what is going on in your life.

Do the most important things first; save the least important ones for later.

Know your limits and allow yourself to relax or simply say “no.”

Turn to releases other than alcohol, tobacco or drugs.

DEPRESSION

Depression is one of the most common diseases, affecting over 6 million men in this country. Many people believe that depression is a normal part of life, something you should just smile and snap out of. It’s not nearly that simple. Yes, everyone feels a little down-in-the dumps once in a while. But if you’re depressed, those feelings don’t pass.

Although depression is generally considered a mental illness, the symptoms are physical and psychological:

Constant sadness or frequent crying

A drop in job performance

Regularly feeling angry, irritable, tense or on edge

Withdrawing from people

Loss of interest

Feelings of guilt for no apparent reason

Generalizing problems: a problem in one area makes you feel like your whole life is coming apart

Change in sleeping patterns

Significant weight loss or gain for no particular reason

Decreased ability to make decisions or concentrate

Trouble motivating oneself to do anything

Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, loneliness or helplessness

Feeling tired and worn down

Thoughts of death or suicide

Unfortunately most men who have depression don’t seek treatment. Some men don’t know (or don’t want to know) that they have the disease. Other men are afraid of seeming weak or defective if they admit they suffer from depression. And in too many cases, men try to solve their problems by self-medicating with alcohol or drugs. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.

If you experience any of the above symptoms for more than two weeks, or if you feel that any of these symptoms are interfering with your life, see a doctor right away. Not getting the help you need will only make the problem worse for you and those around you.

MHN Men’s Health NetworkTM

www.menshealthnetwork.org