BROS & DEPRESSION

GETTING HELP, BRO

Bro, don’t try to tough out depression on your own! It takes courage to seek help—from a loved one or a professional. Most men with depression respond well to self-help steps such as reaching out for social support, exercising, switching to a healthy diet, and making other lifestyle changes.

 

But don’t expect your mood to improve instantly. You’ll likely begin to feel a little better each day. Many men recovering from depression notice improvements in sleep patterns and appetite before improvements in their mood. But these self-help steps can have a powerful effect on how you think and feel, helping you to overcome the symptoms of depression and regain your enjoyment of life.

BroTip 1: Seek social support

Work commitments can often make it difficult for men to find time to maintain friendships, but the first step to tackling male depression is to find people you can really connect with, face-to-face. That doesn’t mean simply trading jokes with a co-worker or chatting about sports with the guy sitting next to you in a bar. It means finding someone you feel comfortable sharing your feelings with, someone who’ll listen to you without judging you, or telling you how you should think or feel.

You may think that discussing your feelings isn’t very macho, Bro, but whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re already communicating your feelings to those around you; you’re just not using words. If you’re short-tempered, drinking more than usual, or punching holes in the wall, those closest to you will know something’s wrong. Choosing to talk about what you’re going through, instead, can actually help you feel better.

Finding social support to beat male depression

For many men—especially when you’re suffering from depression—reaching out to others can seem overwhelming. But developing and maintaining close relationships are vital to helping you get through this tough time. If you don’t feel that you have anyone to turn to, it’s never too late to build new friendships and improve your support network.​

How to reach out for depression support

  • Look for support from people who make you feel safe and cared for. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to fix you; they just need to be a good listener-someone who’ll listen attentively and compassionately without being distracted or judging you.

  • Make face-time a priority. Phone calls, social media, and texting are great ways to stay in touch, but they don’t replace good old-fashioned in-person quality time. The simple act of talking to someone face to face about how you feel can play a big role in relieving depression and keeping it away.

  • Try to keep up with social activities even if you don’t feel like it. Often when you’re depressed, it feels more comfortable to retreat into your shell, but being around other people will make you feel less depressed.

  • Find ways to support others. It’s nice to receive support, but research shows you get an even bigger mood boost from providing support yourself. So find ways-both big and small-to help others: volunteer, be a listening ear for a friend, do something nice for somebody.

  • Care for a pet. While nothing can replace the human connection, pets can bring joy and companionship into your life and help you feel less isolated. Caring for a pet can also get you outside of yourself and give you a sense of being needed-both powerful antidotes to depression.

  • Join a support group for depression. Being with others dealing with depression can go a long way in reducing your sense of isolation. You can also encourage each other, give and receive advice on how to cope, and share your experiences.

  • Invite someone to a ballgame, movie, or concert. There are plenty of other people who feel just as awkward about reaching out and making friends as you do. Be the one to break the ice.

  • Call or email an old buddy. Even if you’ve retreated from relationships that were once important to you, make the effort to reconnect.

BroTip 2: Support your health

Bro, positive lifestyle changes can help lift depression and keep it from coming back.

  • Aim for eight hours of sleep. Depression typically involves sleep problems; whether you’re sleeping too little or too much, your mood suffers. Get on a better sleep schedule by learning healthy sleep habits.

  • Keep stress in check. Not only does stress prolong and worsen depression, but it can also trigger it. Figure out all the things in your life that stress you out, such as work overload, money problems, or unsupportive relationships, and find ways to relieve the pressure and regain control.

  • Practice relaxation techniques. A daily relaxation practice can help relieve symptoms of depression, reduce stress, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation.

  • Spend time in sunlight. Getting outside during daylight hours and exposing yourself to the sun can help boost serotonin levels and improve your mood. Take a walk, have your coffee outside, do some yard work, or double up on the benefits by exercising outdoors. If you live somewhere with little winter sunshine, try using a light therapy box.

  • Develop a “wellness toolbox” to deal with depression

  • Come up with a list of things that you can do for a quick mood boost. The more “tools” for coping with depression, the better. Try and implement a few of these ideas each day, even if you’re feeling good

BroTip 3: Exercise for greater mental and physical health

I know Bro - when you’re depressed, just getting out of bed can seem like a daunting task, let alone working out! But exercise is a powerful depression fighter - and one of the most important tools in your recovery arsenal. Research shows that regular exercise can be as effective as medication for relieving depression symptoms. It also helps prevent relapse once you’re well.

  • To get the most benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. This doesn’t have to be all at once-and it’s okay to start small. A 10-minute walk can improve your mood for two hours. Exercise is something you can do right now to boost your mood.

  • Your fatigue will improve if you stick with it. Starting to exercise can be difficult when you’re depressed and feeling exhausted. But research shows that your energy levels will improve if you keep with it. Exercise will help you to feel energized and less fatigued, not more.

  • Find exercises that are continuous and rhythmic. The most benefits for depression come from rhythmic exercise-such as walking, weight training, swimming, or martial arts-where you move both your arms and legs.

  • Add a mindfulness element, especially if your depression is rooted in unresolved trauma or fed by obsessive, negative thoughts. Focus on how your body feels as you move-such as the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, or the feeling of the wind on your skin, or the rhythm of your breathing.

  • Pair up with an exercise partner. Not only does working out with others enable you to spend time socializing, it can also help to keep you motivated. Try joining a running club, seeking out tennis partners, or enrolling in a soccer or volleyball league.

  • Take a dog for a walk. If don’t own a dog, you can volunteer to walk homeless dogs for an animal shelter or rescue group. You’ll not only be helping yourself but also be helping to socialize and exercise the dogs, making them more adoptable.

BroTip 4: Eat a healthy diet to improve how you feel

  • Minimize sugar and refined carbs. You may crave sugary snacks, baked goods, or comfort foods such as pasta or French fries, but these “feel-good” foods quickly lead to a crash in mood and energy.

  • Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, and foods with high levels of chemical preservatives or hormones.

  • Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids to give your mood a boost. The best sources are fatty fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines), seaweed, flaxseed, and walnuts.

  • Try foods rich in mood-enhancing nutrients, such as bananas (magnesium to decrease anxiety, vitamin B6 to promote alertness, tryptophan to boost feel-good serotonin levels) and spinach (magnesium, folate to reduce agitation and improve sleep).

  • Avoid deficiencies in B vitamins which can trigger depression. Eat more citrus fruit, leafy greens, beans, chicken, and eggs.

BroTip 5: Challenge negative thinking

Do you feel like you’re powerless or weak, Bro? That bad things happen and there’s not much you can do about it? That your situation is hopeless? Depression puts a negative spin on everything, including the way you see yourself and your expectations for the future.

When these types of thoughts overwhelm you, it’s important to remember that this is a symptom of your depression and these irrational, pessimistic attitudes - known as cognitive distortions-aren’t realistic. When you really examine them they don’t hold up. But even so, they can be tough to give up. You can’t break out of this pessimistic mind frame by telling yourself to “just think positive.” Often, it’s part of a lifelong pattern of thinking that’s become so automatic you’re not even completely aware of it. Rather, the trick is to identify the type of negative thoughts that are fuelling your depression, and replace them with a more balanced way of thinking.

Negative, unrealistic ways of thinking that fuel depression – avoid them consciously Bro! If you want to develop skills in reorienting your mindset and the way you see life, contact me and we can have a chat about how life coaching can help you.​

BroTip 6: Professional help 

If support from family and friends and positive lifestyle changes aren’t enough, seek help from a mental health professional. Be open about how you’re feeling as well as your physical symptoms. Treatments for depression in men include:

  • Therapy. You may feel that talking to a stranger about your problems is ‘unmanly,’ or that therapy carries with it a victim status. However, if therapy is available to you, it can often bring a swift sense of relief, even to the most skeptical male. Therapists include counsellors, psychologists and psychologists.

  • Life Coaching and Mentorship. You may also wish to consider seeing a life coach and mentor like myself, where the focus is more on moving forward, goal setting and developing new life skills in managing defeatist mindsets. Contact me for more information.

  • Doctor/General Practitioner. Consult a doctor/General Practitioner who has experience in mental health/depression. They can assess your situation and prescribe antidepressant medication that may help relieve some symptoms of depression.

BroTip 7: Medical treatment 

Antidepressants are a popular treatment choice for depression. Although antidepressants may not cure depression, they can reduce symptoms. The first antidepressant you try may work fine. But if it doesn't relieve your symptoms or it causes side effects that bother you, you may need to try another.

So don't give up. A number of antidepressants are available, and chances are you'll be able to find one that works well for you. And sometimes a combination of medications may be an option. Click here to find out more about antidepressants.

  • Click here to find out more about how to prepare yourself to see a GP and talk about your mental health challenge. 

     

  • Click here to find out where you can access medical and/or professional help in your country.

CONTACT

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BROS GLOBAL acknowledges the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia as the first inhabitants of this nation and the traditional custodians of the lands where we are established.

BROS GLOBAL recognises diverse communities who, through their lived experiences, help to guide our research, resources and training development for men's mental health, wellbeing and personal development.

BROS GLOBAL respectfully acknowledges those who have died or have been affected by suicide or intentional self-harm. We are committed to ensuring our work continues to inform improvements in both community awareness and prevention of suicide and self-harm.

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