Until recently, the causes of depression were much of an unknown, but as the science and technology of brain and behavior disorders advanced, we began to have a better understanding of the biological basis of mental illness. We know 100% that depression is a mental disorder. Mental disorders are no different from all the ailments that can occur below the neck and should be treated just as seriously. And we also know that many people with depression aren’t getting the treatment they desperately need because of the fear of the stigma.
As a man, I know that many of us (men) will refuse treatment at times, all in the name of “toughening up”, especially when it comes to our feelings or thoughts. But consider the previous paragraph. Depression is just as real as an illness as diabetes, for example. The causes are not our fault. The causes of depression may range from neurotransmitters, in our brain, misfiring to genetics to excessive release of cortisol (a hormone that helps our body deal with stress). Again, it’s out of our power, but what is within our power is the ability to fight it by seeking the appropriate medical treatment.
Consider the following men, whose ailments, by no means, took anything away from their “manliness”, but one could argue their ability to seek treatment, fight it, and openly discuss it only enhanced their characters and draw to them greater respect:
Russell Brand (bipolar disorder)
Michael J. Fox (Parkinson’s disease)
Jim Carrey (depression)
So, let’s be honest with ourselves. If you are struggling with depression (symptoms include an “empty” feeling; recurrent thoughts of death and suicide; fatigue; etc.) seek the appropriate treatment your body needs. Be a man and take action.
If you need a nudge (or just a laugh), check out the words of manly wisdom from my favorite pretend therapist, Dr. Richard Mahogany of mantherapy.org.