Why aren’t we talking about it?
Depression and anxiety can happen to anybody, but men are less likely to reach out for help. That’s because men generally put off getting help for health problems, especially when the issue is with mental health.
Men (tāne) don’t tend to talk about their mental health and can be slow to get help.
You might think society expects you to handle the problem yourself or ‘harden up’ and get over it. You also may not like to admit that you’re feeling a bit shaky or vulnerable. You might think experiencing depression or anxiety is a weakness. In fact they are common health issues and help is available to get through it.
Being ‘tough’ can be hard on you and hard on your family (whānau) and friends. If you think depression or anxiety might be affecting you, try the self-tests.
Don’t go it alone. Check out ways to get help here.
What gives men so much trouble?
It’s not easy to pinpoint exactly what causes depression or anxiety. It‘s different for different people. It might be that you’re going through a difficult time, or maybe several issues have built up over time. Sometimes there’s no obvious reason.
Some of the common risk factors for men can include:
- physical injuries
- relationship (whānau) difficulties and conflict
- major life changes, like becoming a Dad
- problems at work
- unemployment, especially if it lasts a long time
- financial problems
- not having close friends to talk to
- divorce and separation from your children (tamariki)
- drugs and alcohol.
It can look different for men
Typically, women (wahine) who experience depression say they feel hopeless and helpless. Men (tāne) are more likely to mention the physical signs rather than the emotional or psychological ones. This means you might describe yourself as being tired all the time, or having an upset stomach. You’re less likely to think of this as depression, anxiety or mental distress.
There are many signs of mental distress, but the following are the most common symptoms that help in recognising depression and or anxiety.
- spending more time alone
- feeling unmotivated, or generally slowing down
- not enjoying doing things you normally would
- feeling restless, moody or irritable
- being aggressive
- thinking you’re a failure
- suicidal thoughts
- sleeping more or less than usual
- unexplained headaches, backaches or other physical pain (mamae)
- Stomach (puku) problems, nausea, changes in bowel habits
- significant changes in appetite
- weight loss or gain
- feeling a lot of fear
- changes in your sex drive.
Doing something about it
If you’re not ready to talk about it, there are plenty of practical things you can do:
- Learn what depression and anxiety are
- Take time to think about what’s going on in your life
- Consider some simple lifestyle changes
- Try some of these other 'do it yourself' mental health ideas
- Check out this technique you can learn for Problem Solving
- Get some pointers from an expert.
Some other websites for guys
- Men’s Health Trust - Promoting good health for New Zealand men.
- Men’s Sheds (New Zealand) - Community spaces where men share their skills and work on practical tasks for themselves or others.
- Cancer Society (Get the Tools) - Providing health information for Māori men.
- Man Alive (counselling and support) - Providing counselling and support services for men by men.
- Canterbury Men’s Centre (counselling and support) - A Christchurch based service offering support and counselling.
Have a look around the rest of this site to learn more about depression/anxiety and what you can do about it.