Bob finds it’s hard for him to leave his troubles behind at the end of the day. He often arrives home with a headache after an aggravating commute. He’s restless in the evening and irritable with his wife – even when she tries to be sympathetic. Although he feels fatigued, he has trouble sleeping. He wakes up in the morning with a sense of dread about having to return to doing a job he’s come to dislike due to his difficult boss and too many dysfunctional coworkers.
Bob manages a group of people who are designing equipment for hospitals. He wants to produce a good product for the doctors and nurses who’ll be using it, but his company is pressuring him to get the job done with minimal costs. He feels guilty about cutting corners. Bob’s trying to control costs by working long hours, but he’s having trouble maintaining his concentration.
Bob’s suffering from a form of depression, but he tells himself he’s just working too hard. He couldn’t be depressed, he says, because he’s not breaking down into tears at the drop of a hat. But here’s the thing – two thirds of middle-aged men who are depressed do not experience sadness as a symptom. Instead, they frequently feel frustrated, irritable, or outright angry. They’re also prone to worrying, which makes getting to sleep a problem. In the morning they have little energy. At work they lack their usual self-confidence.
Unlike women who tend to withdraw when they’re depressed, Bob’s coping like the typical adult male by compulsively focusing on his job. While Bob’s consumed by his job, other men may become obsessed with a hobby, the internet, or video games. Instead of crying, men who are depressed are much more likely to develop an explosive temper which may lead them to engage in reckless or violent behavior. Men are also likely to try to find relief from their distress by abusing alcohol or drugs.
Men who are suffering from depression often complain about having physical problems, although they’re usually not aware that their ailments are symptoms of depression. The most common complaints associated with depression are changes in sleep patterns, energy level, and appetite. In addition, frequent headaches, back pain, muscle aches, dizziness, digestive problems, and chest pain can be symptoms of depression. The most disturbing problem for men who are depressed is erectile dysfunction.
A Consumer Report’s survey found that one-third of people with depression who started working out said they felt much better, while 50% said that aerobic exercise had given them some relief. Exercise burns off stress chemicals in the body, and naturally builds up the supply of good neurotransmitters in the brain. If a few weeks of exercise doesn’t provide enough relief from the symptoms of depression, then counseling may be in order.
Men often resist talking about their problems. However, men who try state-of-the-art therapy are pleasantly surprised to find that it’s much like having a coach who teaches them how to improve the present rather than analyzing what went wrong in the past. To find the right professional, it’s important to speak to the person on the phone first to be sure that you feel comfortable conversing with them. Pay attention to how well they listen to you and ask them what approach they’d use to help you. The research indicates that two approaches provide the best results:
- Cognitive behavioral counseling helps you improve your ability to think about how solve the problems you’re facing. By changing how you’re explaining problems to yourself, you can shift from feeling stuck to seeing solutions.
- Positive psychology coaching teaches you how people attain the highest levels of satisfaction and success. It’s a research based approach designed to go well beyond getting you back to “normal.” The goal of positive psychology is to help you see what your life would look like at its best:
- How would your personal and professional relationships be working?
- What’s the best way to handle setbacks?
- What are your unique strengths that enable you to be able to perform at your best?
- How can you convert stress into useful energy for overcoming obstacles?
- How can you improve other people’s performance?
Most men understand the importance coaches in sports. They can see the value of having someone who knows how to bring out the best results for the players on the field. There are times in life when having someone on your side can make all the difference.