Last week, news of Stephen Fry's attempted suicide thrust male depression into the spotlight.
It therefore seems apt that this year's Men's Health Week focusses on male depression and tackling the taboos of a seldom talked about issue.
It is estimated by the Men's Health Forum that as many as one in 10 men will suffer from depression during their lifetime. Patient.co.uk estimates that the average length of an episode of depression is six to eight months. But many remain reluctant to seek help or admit that they have a problem.
"Seeking help is often considered a sign of weakness," says Caroline Carr, who founded mypartnerisdepressed.com after living for months with her husband's depression, told HuffPost UK Lifestyle.
"It's odd," she added. "Because everyone will be affected by depression or anxiety at some point in their lifetime -- either directly or through a loved one or work colleague."
She says that feelings of depression or anxiety are completely natural.
"They are coping mechanisms designed to help us deal with difficult or overwhelming situations," she said. "The problems arise when the dark clouds do not lift."
HuffPost UK Lifestyle spoke to Amelia Mustapha, Founding Member of the European Depression Association, to find out some typical signs of depression.
"People may find it hard to get out of bed in the morning, going to work seems pointless and they are no longer able to see the pleasure in the things they once found enjoyable – feelings that without treatment can drag on for weeks, months and even years,” she explained.
Other signs of depression include:
- Continuous low mood
- Low self-esteem
- Irritable and intolerant of others
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of energy or interest in sex
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Neglecting your hobbies and interest
- Avoiding contact with family and friends
- Unexplained aches and pains
Caroline, who is also a life and laughter coach, says it is important not to blame yourself when a partner is depressed.
"I found myself asking what I had done to trigger this change," she told HuffPost UK Lifestyle. "But in reality his depression had been building for months."
She revealed that her husband's mood changed when the family moved home -- from Somerset to Dorset.
"At first he was withdrawn and upset," she revealed. "But as his depression progressed he became hostile and angry towards me."
Caroline explains that when helping a loved one it is important to remain objective and encourage them to seek help.
Standing back from thoughts and just observing them can help to highlight unhelpful patterns of thinking that may be causing someone to feel depressed. For more advice visit www.feeling-blue.co.uk or European Depression Association
Talking things through with a friend or family member can help to lessen the burden of negative thoughts and can sometimes help to find a solution. For more advice visit www.feeling-blue.co.uk or European Depression Association
This can be a way of meeting people who are going through the same things, which can provide great support and understanding. GP practices should have a list of what is available in the area. For example, they might like to contact RELATE if they have relationship problem or Cruse if their depression has been triggered by loss or bereavement. For more advice visit www.feeling-blue.co.uk or European Depression Association
Finding out what someone likes doing and helping them to do it can be beneficial. It could be shopping, listening to music, watching a movie, having a massage – little things all count. Draw up a list of things they enjoy and suggest they do one of them at least three or four times a week. For more advice visit www.feeling-blue.co.uk or European Depression Association
Paying attention to simple physical needs such as eating, sleeping and exercise can all help alleviate mild-to-moderate depression. For more advice visit www.feeling-blue.co.uk or European Depression Association
Some studies suggest omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 -especially if nutrient levels are low - may ease the mood changes that are part of depression. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids. So do flaxseed, nuts, soybeans, and dark green vegetables. Seafood and low-fat dairy products are sources of B12. Most people don’t consume enough of these foods and they may need a supplement to obtain optimum benefits. For more advice visit www.feeling-blue.co.uk or European Depression Association
Once they start feeling a bit better taking up a new hobby or activity at the weekend or at an evening class can help lift mood still further. Good options include joining a book club, a knitting circle or having a go at the local pub quiz? This can help to break the vicious circle of loneliness and spending too much time dwelling on negative thoughts. For more advice visit www.feeling-blue.co.uk or European Depression Association
Talking therapies usually involve meeting with a trained therapist either alone or in a group where people talk about their problems and try to find a solution. They may be offered psychotherapy and general counselling. But according to NICE, the most effective treatment for depression is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which should be offered to people by their GP. It shows people how to replace unhelpful negative thoughts, which could be contributing to their depression with more realistic and balanced ones. There are also a number of Internet-based CBT programmes, which research suggests are helping many more people get help with their depression. The reason? They can access them at home in their own time. For more advice visit www.feeling-blue.co.uk or European Depression Association
For more information and resources on male depression please visit www.feeling-blue.co.uk