Many men don’t even know that they’re depressed. They can easily get caught up in work, responsibilities, taking care of the family, and being a provider. It’s easy for them to lose themselves in what they believe is expected of them. It’s easy for them to lose a connection with themselves.
Jimmy Brown, a firefighter, described his depression in this way:
“My daily routine was shot. I didn’t have the energy to do anything. I got up because the dog had to be walked and my wife needed to go to work. The day would go by and I didn’t know where it went. I wanted to get back to normal. I just wanted to be myself again.”
Depression is a psychological condition that many people experience. It tends to have a stigma in our society, and for that reason, it’s rarely discussed. Yet, many individuals have depression that is easily disguised because it’s such a familiar experience to their life. If a man begins to feel uncomfortable, for instance, the thought of depression may not enter his mind. Instead, they may simply crave a cold beer or a visit to the local bar.
Men who don’t recognize they have depression won’t seek help, and they are often reluctant to talk about their feelings. Instead, it’s easier to escape to alcohol. Drinking can become a self-medication that helps men feel better and lose the heaviness they may be feeling inside. However, over time, if the self medication that alcohol or drugs provide develops into an addiction, both the depression and the addiction will need to be treated, if and when that time comes. Achieving sober living means treating not only the depression but also the addiction which only masks the deeper problem.
Fortunately, many men’s sober living facilities are beginning to offer mental health treatment in addition to drug counseling and addiction treatment. The sober help that an addict acquires needs to address both the depression as well as the addiction. Sadly, there are many treatment facilities that do not fully address both conditions, making long-term sober living difficult to sustain – an individual might experience chronic relapse because his or her underlying condition hasn’t been resolved.
The word depression has Latin roots that mean “pressed down.” It is as though the energy of the mind and heart has been pushed inward instead of expressed and leaves an individual feeling “down”, despondent, or low. Men with depression may experience the following symptoms:
- Feeling down
- Loss of interest in activities
- Social withdrawal
- Suicidal thoughts
- Poor concentration
- Poor memory
- Slow thinking
- Loss of motivation
- Sleep disturbance – insomnia / hypersomnia
- Appetite disturbance – weight loss/gain
About 9 percent of American adults suffer from depression, and globally, five percent of the population across the planet suffers from depression. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability among teens and adults ages 15-44.
Although depression is difficult to go through, like addiction, it is treatable! No matter what stage of addiction the condition of depression arises, it can be managed with psychotherapy and medication. Medication help relieve symptoms of depression, and this is particularly important when drinking stops. When the cycle of addiction comes to an end, men may be vulnerable to feeling more depressed because there is nothing masking their mood any longer. Medication can help relieve these symptoms while psychotherapy can facilitate healing any life events that may be contributing to the depression.
Men should know that sober living is not depressed living; it is living with happiness, meaning, and fulfillment.
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