Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, aims to raise awareness about the unique health challenges faced by men.
“One critical aspect of men’s health is mental well-being, particularly the recognition and understanding of depression,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.
“Depression can affect anyone, regardless of gender, but research indicates that men may be less likely to seek help or openly discuss their mental health struggles.”
What is Depression?
Depression is a mental health disorder characterised by persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, and a range of other physical and emotional symptoms.
It is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Depression is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw; rather, it is a medical condition that requires attention and support.
Why Do Many Men Suffer from Depression?
Several factors contribute to the higher prevalence of depression in men. Societal expectations and traditional gender norms often discourage men from expressing vulnerability or seeking help for emotional difficulties.
Men may feel pressure to conform to ideals of strength and self-reliance, leading them to downplay or ignore their emotional distress.
Additionally, men may experience unique stressors, such as work-related pressures, financial concerns, or relationship challenges, which can contribute to the development of depression.
Depression can be triggered by a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Common triggers include major life events, such as the loss of a loved one, divorce, or job loss.
Other factors, such as chronic illness, substance abuse, or a family history of depression, can also increase the risk of developing the condition. It is important to note that not everyone who experiences these triggers will develop depression, and individual experiences may vary.
Prevalence in South Africa
Worldwide Depression is a global health concern, and South Africa is no exception. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 264 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In South Africa, depression affects approximately one in six individuals at some point in their lives.
Signs and Symptoms
Depression can manifest differently in men compared to women, and it is crucial to recognise the signs and symptoms. Common indicators of depression in men may include:
- Persistent sadness or irritability
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Fatigue or decreased energy levels
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Difficulty sleeping or excessive sleeping
- Restlessness or difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or hopelessness
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive issues, or unexplained pain
It is important to note that not all men will experience the same symptoms, and the severity of symptoms can vary. If these signs persist for more than two weeks and interfere with daily life, it is essential to seek professional help.
Depression is a treatable condition, and various approaches can help men manage and overcome it. Six treatment options may include:
- Talk therapy: Engaging in individual or group therapy sessions with a mental health professional can provide a supportive space to explore and address underlying issues contributing to depression.
- Medication: In some cases, antidepressant medication may be prescribed to help alleviate symptoms. It is important to consult a healthcare professional for appropriate evaluation and prescription.
- Lifestyle changes: Incorporating healthy habits, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep, can have a positive impact on mental well-being.
- Support network: Building a strong support network of friends, family, or support groups can provide emotional support and a sense of belonging.
- Stress management techniques: Learning stress management techniques, such as relaxation exercises, mindfulness, or engaging in hobbies, can help alleviate symptoms of depression.
- Self-care: Practicing self-care activities, such as engaging in enjoyable activities, setting boundaries, and prioritising self-care, can contribute to overall mental well-being.