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'Mail' Newspaper Articles

Focal Point (for publishing—28/04/09)

Depression in Men

Depression is the elephant in the room for many men. It invades their space, it robs them of free movement in life, it cripples their enjoyment and it is so large it separates them from family and friends. So what do they do? Some try to carry on by pretending it is not there. Some become innovative in the way they move around it and it simply crushes others. Recently in a men’s group I showed a video on Depression in Men, then over donuts and coffee I invited discussion. It was interesting to me what developed. Even in the dark while the video was still running I heard someone let an expletive go when the commentator said that anti-depression medication was not addictive. With the lights up we started with that man’s comment. In fact we found that it was not his experience but an anecdotal incident he had heard of. Then I called for more comments. One by one I easily gathered about nine comments out of fifteen men before I weighed in. What had happened was that each man seemed to need to go one better about how they didn’t need medication, that it was addictive, that depression was a thing that they could fight and overcome anyway, that they had worked it off, that they had sought spiritual help, that the whole thing was a conspiracy seeing the video was made by Pfizer and that the trouble was all connected to poor diet and poor exercise. When I started, I challenged them to think about what they were doing. Each man was trying to outdo the other with a better reason for not succumbing to the ‘weakness’. How then could any man admit in this environment that he was so ‘weak’ that he needed to be on medication for depression? They saw the light. Then I was able to talk about the broad range of the severity and effects of depression, and how that some of the lesser forms can be worked through with the help of a counselor, chaplain, minister, priest or a good trusted friend or mentor. These situations may not call for medication. However it’s the insidious forms of Clinical Depression, arriving unannounced and unexpected that cripple. We know this is serious when normal daily functions cannot be achieved; when sleep evades us, when sleep consumes us, when we can’t work and we lack all desire for pleasure. At this point it is not a matter of will or strength, it’s a matter of getting medical and psychological help. In the men’s group I asked whether the fight or the shame would be the same if their doctor diagnosed diabetes and told them that they needed medication – the answer was a group no. Men in particular somehow feel the need to be in control, especially in the mind. It’s men’s competitive nature that doesn’t allow for less competency than others. Men, if you are not functioning properly after some heavy situations in life like significant losses, get help. It is not weak and you are not succumbing, you are taking a strong stand for your own well-being and for your relationships with family and friends. Start with your doctor or ring me on the number below.

Graeme Dawson B.Min. Grad.Dip.CC. 
Co-ordinator Focal Point & Valley Care Counsellor & Manager
Valley Care Counselling Service 0409 517273.


Focal Point Yarra Valley 2009