Mental health is something that men are getting better and better at talking about.
Mental health issues can be triggered by stresses in daily life, and as such they are clinical illnesses that often require outside help and treatment.
The most common mental illnesses are anxiety and depressive disorders.
Everyone experiences strong feelings of tension, fear, or sadness at times. However a mental illness is present when these feelings become so disturbing and overwhelming that people have great difficulty coping with day-to-day activities such as work, enjoying leisure time and maintaining relationships. When any or all of this creeps in, it’s maybe time to get some help.
1 in 8 New Zealand men will experience serious depression during their lifetime. Depression is more than a low mood. It is a serious illness that can need clinical treatment. Those with depression find it hard to function and it can have a serious effect on a person’s physical and mental health.
Just as the songs say, everyone gets the blues sometime. Depression is different though, affecting your thinking and behaviour and lasting from weeks to months.
Key symptoms of depression include constantly feeling down or hopeless, a loss of enjoyment or interest in doing the things you used to enjoy doing, negative thinking and sleep problems. It can hit some people so hard they think about harming themselves or even suicide.
Here’s the good part – depression can be treated. This can range from simple lifestyle changes through talking and counselling to the use of using anti-depressants in more severe cases.
There are lots of services, information sources and good people ready to help, and the sooner you get help, the sooner you will start to shake off what Winston Churchill famously referred to as ‘the black dog’.
If you are depressed, there are some easy steps you can take to lift your mood and help your recovery.
1. Talk to someone: talking with your mood someone you trust about how you are feeling can help you feel less alone. Sometimes we need the view of a friend or loved one to see what we are putting out there.
2. Eat well. The link between food and mood is well known: what you eat affects your mental wellbeing. You can up your mental wellbeing by making changes to your diet, and luckily, the same eating habits that keep you mentally well are those that support your physical health too. A healthy diet is such a big part of making you feel good, and even the making great food can be uplifting.
3. Stay physically active. The powerful link between body and mental health means exercise is one part of your recovery that you can totally control. Start small but make it regular, get outside more, make better habits. It’s all good.
4. Alcohol and other recreational drugs need to be avoided as they actually won’t make you better. Not having these, especially if they are part of the problem, can get you feeling better much easier.
5. Stay connected to the people who you love and who matter. Build on these whanau and friend links, fall back on them, but keep them.
6. Remember that asking for and getting help is a sign of strength, courage, kaha.
Visit www.depression.org.nz for more really helpful information
Often people with depression also find they worry about things more than usual. This is known as anxiety. An anxiety disorder is more than just feeling stressed – it’s a serious condition that makes it hard for the person to cope from day-to-day.
It can cause physical symptoms like pain, a pounding heart or stomach cramps and for some people these physical symptoms are their main concern.
Anxiety may be constant, or it may come and go in certain circumstances. Either way it’s important to recognise anxiety when it occurs, and to seek help.
In New Zealand the suicide rate for men is 3 times that of women.
Suicide and suicidal tendencies are still some of hardest issues to talk about socially. It can be easier to approach the subject by having a concrete idea of where men are most vulnerable and what triggers can often lead towards an attempt on one’s life.
Those aged between 15-24 have the highest rate of suicide, and Maori suicide rates are significantly higher than non-Maori suicide rates.
Some of the most common triggers for suicide are the breakup of a relationship, debilitating physical illness or accident, death of someone close, a suicide of someone famous or from a peer group, or bullying or discrimination.
For more information or to talk to someone about any difficulties that you or someone close to you might be having in their life, please contact LIFELINE on 0800 543 354 or at www.lifeline.co.nz
Just as easy and really helpful……..just call 1737