Depression can feel like a Goliath. Its shadow looms over you and affects how you engage with others at work and home. It leaves you tired and sad. Your giant of depression whispers in your ear that you are not doing enough, not good enough, never enough. The lies it feeds you make you want to collapse and never get up again.
But that giant, that Goliath, is a liar. Depression is pervasive, but you can manage the symptoms with counseling and lifestyle changes. Gear up and get ready to face this giant of depression.
Symptoms of depression in men.
As a society, men are still coming to terms with their depression and seeking treatment. The stigma once placed a barrier between men and effective treatment. We are seeing this barrier fall, and more people are seeking therapy for depression in men.
Common symptoms of depression in men include:
- A persistent sadness.
- Losing interest in hobbies and other things they once enjoyed.
- Sleeping too much or having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
- Overeating or skipping meals.
- Rapid weight loss or gain.
- Physical ailments like headaches and digestive issues.
- Mood swings from quiet and distant to irritable and easily angered.
- Lower sexual drive.
- Trouble concentrating on tasks and forgetting things.
- Thoughts of suicide.
Every man is different, so you may only experience a few symptoms. It is also important to consider if you are engaging in riskier behaviors to take your mind off your current situation. Are you turning to alcohol or drugs to get through the day? Are you avoiding people?
Isolating yourself is a behavior often seen in depression. Are you working overtime on purpose? Even if you surround yourself with friends, does it feel like you are wearing a mask, trying to hide from that depression giant? It may be time to stop hiding from your depression and hit back.
Causes of depression.
Depression can be the result of terrible news or a sudden loss. It can develop from an experience or trauma. Chronic depression can run for several months or years if a person is under a great deal of stress. Typically, this is seen in people caring for a chronically ill or terminally ill family member or those under long-term pressure from work or finances.
Family history and genetics also affect how likely you are to develop depression. If close family members struggle with a mental condition, it raises your risk. Some people have a genetic marker that makes them more susceptible to depressive states. Problems with the neurotransmitters in the brain can also contribute to chemical imbalances and depression.
Depression is treatable, but you must seek out assistance. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
How to fight against depression in men.
Lifestyle changes and support can go a long way in defeating depression. Depression wants you to isolate and focus on how you feel. When you fight against this, you will feel resistance. It feels easier to give in and give up. But God created you in His image. You are stronger than you know.
Embrace the pain of resistance and fight. Make the changes that will help ease depression symptoms. Your relationships, parenting, career, and self-confidence are on the line.
Ask for support.
To push back against your Goliath, do not allow it to get you into a corner. Isolation is an enemy when you struggle with depression. Instead, ask those closest to you for help. If you are married with a family, make them aware of your recent struggles. Ask them for help.
If you belong to a church, reach out for support. Often, a church will have Men’s Bible study groups that focus on topics that affect them. Attend a few of these and see if it is the right fit for you. You can also check with your local community center and city social media pages for groups dealing with depression.
Stress compounds depression. When you feel overwhelmed or have no clue how you will make ends meet this month, it can paralyze you with fear. Skills for managing stress can help you keep your head above water. Problem-solving skills and learning to reframe negative thoughts into constructive ones can result in a breakthrough.
You can find online courses that teach stress management techniques or contact a counseling center. A licensed mental health care professional teaches lifelong skills in time management, stress reduction, problem-solving, and conflict resolution.
Do something fun.
Depression steals your fun. You can lose interest in the things that once brought you joy. Is there a hobby or interest that might relight that fire for you? Did you like playing golf, hanging out with your friends at a sports event, or doing something with your hands? When was the last time you created something?
If you need ideas, ask your support network. They may have new suggestions that you would have never thought to try. This is also an excellent opportunity to surround yourself with people who care about you.
Set realistic goals.
Giving yourself something to look forward to can get you out of bed in the morning. This can be a physical goal, like training to run a 5k. Or, it could be writing a book in 90 days. Pick something that you want to accomplish. Make sure the goal is realistic and specific. Set a deadline.
You will need to break your overall goal down into manageable tasks. For example, if you want to write a book in 90 days and know the book should be around 80,000 words, then break your goal down further. If you write 890 words daily, you will reach your goal in 90 days.
Whatever goal you choose, work backward (reverse-engineering) to plan the smaller tasks you need to do every day to get closer to reaching the goal.
Improve your health.
Eating well and exercising improves your mood. Processed, junk, and fast foods are loaded with artificial ingredients and preservatives, making you feel sluggish. Choose lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables. If you are used to consuming unhealthy food, start swapping out your breakfasts for one week, then add a new meal each week.After getting clearance from a doctor, add exercise to your routine. The endorphins that your brain releases will lift your spirits. Exercise increases your self-esteem and confidence. When you work out first thing in the morning, you will carry positive benefits throughout the day. Researchers have learned that you are more likely to make better, healthier decisions throughout the day after working out in the morning.
Do not ignore suicidal or self-harming thoughts.
That depression giant wants to destroy you. Intrusive thoughts and sadness can lead you to believe things that are not true. It is important to remember that you are loved and you are worthy.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. – John 10:10, NIV
If you are having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself or others, seek help immediately. These are not thoughts to ignore. A counselor can help you separate the truth from the lies.
Christian counseling for treating depression.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18, NIV
God knows what you are going through. He is well acquainted with depression in men as many Bible heroes, like David, Elijah, and even Jesus, experienced depression in different seasons of their lives. Leaning into God during this season of your life can give you the strength you need to overcome the symptoms.
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. – Isaiah 53:3a, NIV
Contact our office today to schedule an appointment with me or another Christian counselor who can help you grow in your relationship with Jesus while also learning new techniques to beat your giant of depression.
“Down”, Courtesy of Jack Lucas Smith, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Woodworking”, Courtesy of Ono Kosuki, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Working Out”, Courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Despair”, Courtesy of Geralt, Pixabay.com, CC0 License