In a rare and stunningly candid interview with the Telegraph (April 2017), Prince Harry spoke openly about his struggles with his mental health. His mother, Princess Diana of Wales, passed away when Harry was only 12 years old and he hadn’t talked about his loss in almost 20 years. Harry even avoided thinking about his mother, which caused him emotional turmoil for most of his life. After coming very close to breaking down with feeling unusually aggressive and anxious, he finally sought professional help with the encouragement from his brother, Prince William, among others.1
Prince Harry is certainly not the first man to struggle with his mental health, but he is one of the few to bravely speak so openly about it. Between 10-17% of men will develop major depression over the course of their lives, though very few seek the help they need and/or get a proper diagnosis. This is why when compared to women, four times the amount of men die from suicide.2
Though studies indicate that it is objectively unclear as to why men are reticent to seek mental health care, many studies opine that societal pressures and expectations prevent men from expressing their emotional feelings, such as anger or hopelessness, which are both associated with depression. Therefore, many men may only identify the physical symptoms of their struggles, such as back pain or sleeping problems, which leaves the depression undiagnosed and untreated. In Prince Harry’s case, he identified his unusually aggressive behavior as troublesome, but felt like he could deal with it himself, which is why he never sought help. A similar thought process and behavior is not uncommon among men suffering with depression and other mental health conditions.
Depression in older men can also be overlooked as the focus of symptoms tend to revolve around diseases such as heart conditions, cancer and other physical conditions. It is often difficult to tease out the source of the depression, i.e. whether it is triggered by a medication side effect for an underlying condition, the physical condition causing the depression, or the patient struggling emotionally.3
The good news is that 8 out of 10 patients respond to treatment for depression.3 There are many treatments and treatment combinations that could be effective for men struggling with depression. They often find success once they reach out for help. Just look at Prince Harry, who was surprised at all of the people willing to help him get better! With counseling and the support of his friends and family, he is now able to talk about these issues and help break the stigma surrounding mental health.
There are many ways you can help men in your life who may suffer from depression. Firstly, you should look for common signs or symptoms:
• Fatigue or decreased energy
• Difficulty sleeping
• Weight gain or loss
• Body aches, headaches, or digestive issues
• Trouble concentrating
• Anger or agitation
• Reckless behavior
• Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol
How to help a Man Who is Struggling with Mental Health
Once symptoms are recognized, there are many things you can do to help. Try to start a conversation about the symptoms you’ve noticed, but avoid labeling the issue as depression. Let him ease into talking about his issues and be a good listener. You can even help him create a list of symptoms that he can share with his doctor.4 Always offer your support and let him know you will be there every step of the way.
To learn more about depression and treatment with TMS Therapy, please visit us at greenbrooktms.com.