Depression

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


            Stealth Depression in Men: Unmasking its 6 Disguises    Depression: It’s not always what you think   When we hear the word “depression,” we often think of crying, sadness, and feelings of low self-esteem. What many people don’t realize is that depression often hides behind behaviors that we generally don’t associate with unhappiness. This can be particularly true in men, who may have been taught from a young age to mask feelings of sadness with other behaviors that society considers more masculine. Without identifying their symptoms as depression, many men go untreated, which over time can have devastating consequences on his mental health, physical well-being, and relationships.    What qualifies as depression?   Depression is not merely defined by sadness – rather, sadness is a symptom of depression. Depression is caused by an underlying belief of not being good enough in some way, which can be applied to a number of areas in a person’s life. Symptoms impact a person’s thoughts, behaviors, and feelings, and are a result of believing that the core of who they are is in some way deficient. Some core beliefs include feeling unlovable, worthless, defective, powerless, hopeless, or incompetent. These underlying beliefs provide fuel to the fire for symptoms of depression. In many cases, these beliefs take the form a constant inner voice that perceives situations in a negative, self-deprecating way.   Mis(ter)understood   There are several effective treatments for depression, but all too often, depression in men goes under the radar. Many men experiencing depression don’t show the stereotypical red flags; instead of expressing despair or showing vulnerability, their behaviors may appear destructive or indifferent. Loved ones may view their actions as malicious or cruel, not knowing the underlying pain that is causing them. Learning ways that depression disguises itself in men can help men and their loved ones understand their symptoms and discover ways to take action and overcome them.    The 6 stealthy disguises of depression in men:    1. The Mask of Anger   Society tends to view anger as a much more acceptable display of emotion in men than expressions of sadness. Because of this, some men manage their depression (which they still might not be aware of) by projecting their negative feelings onto the outside world. If you find yourself feeling irritable often or arguing frequently, anger may be a working as a mask to disguise depression.    2. The Ruse of Risk-Taking   While a little risk-taking can add a healthy dose of thrill to anyone’s life, excessive reckless behavior can be a sign of depression. If you find yourself eager to start fights, driving drunk, having unsafe sex, or gambling in excess, these behaviors may be a subconscious effort to give yourself temporary relief from underlying pain.   3. The Slump of Sex Drive     It’s common for people struggling with depression to find decreased enjoyment in activities they once found pleasurable, including fun in the bedroom. It’s normal for a man’s libido to change throughout his life, but if you’ve noticed a significant decrease in sexual desire, less enjoyment from sex, or are having symptoms of erectile dysfunction, it’s possible that depression is rearing its head in your love life.    4. The Camouflage of Pain   Depression can also manifest itself in physical pain. Frequent body aches, stomach and gastrointestinal pains, chronic fatigue, or increased pain sensitivity can be signs of depression. These symptoms can also worsen depression as pains may discourage men from engaging in fun, physical activities that could elevate their mood.    5. The Cover-up of Drinking up   Unaware of healthier ways to cope, many men turn to drugs or alcohol to drown their negative feelings. While many guys can enjoy the occasional drink to “take the edge off,” every time a man drinks to numb his feelings, he is robbing himself of being able to resolve them. Substances allow him to temporarily forget his troubles, but once the high wears off, he is back at square one and often more depressed than before. Using substances to cover up depression is a common recipe toward addiction.   6. The Cloak of Isolation   When a man is depressed, it’s common for him to isolate himself from others. This could include staying at work late or spending lots of time on video games or their cellphone. It can appear to loved ones that he is not interested in spending time with them; in reality, these behaviors are a response to underlying feelings of inadequacy that decrease his motivation and interest in enjoying the company of others.    How can a man battle depression?   If you’re a man experiencing any of depression’s stealthy disguises,    Dr. Christopher Sample, Specialist in Men’s Issues  , recommends these tips:   Confront your “stinking thinking”   Whichever “mask” you are experiencing, there are some negative thought patterns directing your mind toward anger, risk-taking, etc. Becoming aware of these thoughts as they arise is an important starting point. When negative ideas come to mind, consider if your thoughts may be stemming from a negative belief about yourself.    Take your thoughts to court   Men with depression have often trained their brains to hone in on the negative perspective, but remember that negative thoughts are not facts. Acknowledge your negative thoughts and come up with evidence against them. Try thinking of healthier, more positive ways to interpret events and situations in your life. Over time, your healthier perspective will lay the foundation for being able to overcome depression and love yourself.   Ditch the devil on your shoulder   Remember the cartoons where the main character had a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other? Much like the devil and the angel, or the Id and the superego, we cannot eliminate the devil, only choose not to listen to him/her.  Picture your negative thoughts as the “shoulder” you aren’t going to listen to. Work on empowering a more positive voice by focusing on the evidence you’ve build up against your negative thoughts.    Example:    Negative thought:  “My wife didn’t cook dinner because she hates me.  Healthier thought:  “Maybe she didn’t make me dinner because she worked all day and didn’t get much sleep last night.”    Hit the gym   The mind and body are connected, and it’s hard to keep one in optimal health without strengthening the other. One way to aid depression is to treat your body through diet and exercise. Your increased endorphins will combat your fatigue and body aches, giving you energy to pursue other fulfilling activities. It can be hard to prioritize the gym when you have work and other obligations. Eating a high protein diet and hitting the gym after work two to three times a week can be a good start in naturally boosting your mood.    Keep fun on your calendar   Getting caught up in life’s responsibilities can make a man lose sight of the enjoyable side of life. Make sure to set time aside every week for a fun or relaxing activity that you enjoy. Dr. Christopher Sample suggests asking yourself, “If I was the happiest I’ve ever been, what would I do for fun right now?  What activity would keep me feeling great?” Allow yourself to engage in these activities on a regular basis. Put the phone down and look up; set specific time that is focused on enjoyment, leisure, and relaxation.   Fake it ‘til you make it   When you are battling depression, you sometimes have to take action first and let the positive feelings come later. You may not feel like going out to eat with your coworkers or waking up early on Sunday for a pick-up soccer game, but show up anyway. Socializing and connecting with loved ones will strengthen your relationships and provide evidence against any negative beliefs that fuel the fire of your depression. Often, these connections can act as a reminder you that you are valued, cared for, and good enough.   Talk to a Specialist   Many men experience depression in a variety forms, but it can be a hard topic to understand or discuss. In a few sessions, a specialist in men’s issues can help you identify what you are going through and guide you through steps to overcoming your challenges.       
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References   Trivedi, Madhukar (2004) The Link Between Depression and Physical Symptoms, The Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Vol 6., pp. 12-16   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). Stealth Depression in Men: Unmasking its 6 Disguises.  Psychologically Speaking .   [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/stealth-depression-in-men-unmasking-its-6-disguises

Depression: It’s not always what you think


When we hear the word “depression,” we often think of crying, sadness, and feelings of low self-esteem. What many people don’t realize is that depression often hides behind behaviors that we generally don’t associate with unhappiness. This can be particularly true in men, who may have been taught from a young age to mask feelings of sadness with other behaviors that society considers more masculine. Without identifying their symptoms as depression, many men go untreated, which over time can have devastating consequences on his mental health, physical well-being, and relationships.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      When a Friend Dies by Suicide   The death of a loved one is always extremely painful, but having a friend die by suicide is especially devastating. Friendships are an important part of the human experience and impact our happiness, well-being, and sense of belonging. While we don’t get to choose which family we’re born into, we do get to choose who we build friendships with, and having that connection severed by suicide is incredibly traumatic.   Why didn’t they come to me?   When a person dies, the first people we tend to sympathize with are family members, but being a friend of someone who dies by suicide presents its own unique struggles. After all, you’re the one they’re supposed to vent to when their family drives them nuts. You’re the one that’s supposed to take them out to get their mind off their crazy ex. You feel a responsibility for their well-being, and it’s hard to accept that their psychological battle was out of your control.   While there’s no easy road through the grieving process, knowing what to expect can help. If you’ve lost a friend to suicide, here are a few things you should know:    It’s ok to be angry   If your friend had been killed by a drunk driver, you’d know exactly who to be mad at. You’d be enraged with the person who made the choice to drive intoxicated. If your friend died by suicide, however, it’s a bit more confusing. They are both the victim and the person who caused their death. It’s normal to feel abandoned, angry, or resentful as you process what’s happened.   “Why” may never be clear – and that’s ok   Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, died by suicide in 2017. His family posted a video showing Chester smiling and playing games with his loved ones just hours before taking his life. Sometimes it’s easy to pinpoint why a person became suicidal - a traumatic event, extreme stress, or mental illness are common instigators. But in cases like Chester’s, suicide was something that no one saw coming. The factors leading to suicide are often unclear, and acceptance can only happen when you realize you may never fully understand “why.”   Grief comes in waves   Some days you’ll feel at peace, accepting that you could not have prevented your friend’s death. Other days, you’ll see an ad for your favorite band coming to town and feel devastated that you can’t call your friend to go with you. Milestones that should be enjoyable, like finding the love of your life, buying a new house, or watching your kids graduate may all have a bitter tinge knowing that your friend isn’t there to share those experiences with you. It’s normal for symptoms of grief to ebb and peak. When you are having an especially bad day, remember that your feelings will subside in time.   Self-care is not betrayal    When your friend dies by suicide, guilt and depression can curb your motivation to take care of yourself. Simple acts like brushing your teeth, eating healthy, and exercising can feel burdensome. Reestablishing your routine will help bring back a sense of normalcy as you work through your grief. Allow yourself to experience both mundane and enjoyable activities, as routine and laughter are both important parts of the healing process.   Therapy isn’t sold in pint glasses    Friends play an important role in the formation of our identities, and after losing a friend it can be tempting to try to numb your void with alcohol. Be cautious about using substances to cope with your grief, as this does not help you work through your pain but only masks it until you sober up again. Alcohol exacerbates depression and anxiety, making you feel even worse once your buzz wears off. This can lead to you becoming dependent on alcohol to cope with your symptoms, worsening your depression and making recovery significantly more challenging.   Pain has a ripple effect   It’s common for loved ones to have suicidal thoughts in the wake of their friend’s death. Our brains want to make sense of things, and when something is insensible, our minds tend to replay the hurtful event repeatedly as we try to make sense of it. This confusion may cause you to fixate on death and despair, resulting in overwhelming feelings of depression and hopelessness. Know that the intensity of these feelings will fade in time. If your suicidal thoughts are unrelenting, seek help from a specialist right away. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can help direct you in getting help, either for yourself or for a loved one in need.  National Suicide Prevention Hotline:   1-800-273-8255     When in doubt, lean   You may feel like isolating yourself, staying in bed, and wallowing in depression for a while. As tough as it may be, push yourself to get out of the house and lean on the support of your friends and family. Isolating yourself may only worsen your depression. Stay connected to supportive people, and limit your time spent with people who tell you how you should think or feel.   Cultures may clash    Different cultures and religions have varying views on suicide, making it something that many people are unwilling to acknowledge or discuss. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding suicide only worsens the problem, discouraging those in need from getting help. Depending on their beliefs, expect that your friend’s family members might have a hard time talking about what happened or speaking up for the needs of those battling mental illness.   You can change perceptions    As their friend, you have the power to make a difference by talking about suicide. Your voice can empower those in need to seek help and acknowledge that sufferers should be recognized and supported without shame. You can share your story through social media, online or in-person support groups, speaking engagements, or by educating your close friends and family. Start by learning how to reduce risk factors and increase protective factors to help prevent future deaths by suicide. A great resource is the   Center for Disease Control’s listing of risks and protective factors.     You made their life better    Know that your relationship was just as important to your friend as it was to you; their choice to end their life was based on a warped perception of reality – a feeling that death was the only viable escape from their struggles - and was not a reflection of the value they placed on your friendship. You improved their quality of life despite their internal battle.   Hope lies ahead    When their loss is still new, it may feel like you’ll never be happy again. Close friends are a defining part of our lives, and their loss is excruciating. This pain reflects the intense bonds we are blessed to experience as human beings. While birthdays and other milestones may be especially tough from year to year, know that the intensity of your grief will lessen over time, and someday you will be able to embrace both the happy and sad memories. Believe that no matter how dire things may feel today, the future holds hope, peace, and acceptance.     Variations can help   While your friends might not have the words to say, a specialist in depression and grief will understand your needs and will listen, validate what you are experiencing and help you discover ways to cope with your loss.  Variations Psychology has experts with a wide range of specializations:      
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References   Center for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/riskprotectivefactors.html  Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide http://www.sptsusa.org/  University of Texas Suicide Prevention Program https://cmhc.utexas.edu/bethatone/studentscopingsuicide.html  The Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/end-of-life/in-depth/suicide/art-20044900?pg=2   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). When a Friend Dies by Suicide.  Psychologically Speaking .   [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/when-a-friend-dies-by-suicide

When a Friend Dies by Suicide

The death of a loved one is always extremely painful, but having a friend die by suicide is especially devastating. Friendships are an important part of the human experience and impact our happiness, well-being, and sense of belonging. While we don’t get to choose which family we’re born into, we do get to choose who we build friendships with, and having that connection severed by suicide is incredibly traumatic.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


         Menopause and Depression: How to Feel Yourself Again      Middle age isn’t what it was 50 years ago. Women like Jennifer Lopez, Cindy Crawford, and Halle Berry are all a testament that “50 is the new 20,” and that when it comes to living a full, vivacious life, age is just a number. For many women, their 40’s and 50’s are some of their most enjoyable years. They may have established careers, a strong sense of identity, and as their kids become more independent, they become freed up to take full advantage of life’s experiences. However, these joys are often dampened by a little thing called menopause and the rather unpleasant symptoms that come with it, such as depression.    Will menopause slow me down?   As with other forms of depression, depression related to menopause can affect your relationships, career, and quality of life; it can suck the joy out of fun experiences, cause terrible anxiety, and slow you down with fatigue - and who needs that?! The good news is, menopause is a normal life experience and by taking a few simple steps, you can overcome depression and get back to living your best life.    Doctor, am I going crazy!    Symptoms related to menopause can be similar to PMS – if you regularly find yourself blowing up at your family and then feeling like the worst person on earth 2 minutes later, there’s a clue. But if you feel like your symptoms are going beyond the periodic hot flash and meltdown because your kid threw his underwear in the sink, you may be experiencing menopausal depression. Symptoms include:    Lost interest in fun or pleasurable activities    Insomnia    Irritability    Anxiety    Fatigue    Suicidal thoughts    Feelings of guilt or worthlessness    Difficulty concentrating    Memory lapses     What is this, a second puberty?!   Before we delve into what you can do for relief, let’s talk about why these symptoms arise in the first place. Menopause is a natural occurrence that happens due to declining hormones as a woman approaches mid-life. A woman is considered to have experienced menopause after not having her period for one year. Depression often starts during the “perimenopausal period,” or the transitional time women go through before the actual onset of menopause. Perimenopause can begin in women  as young as 30  and can last for many years before a woman’s final period.    This was easier when I was 13…   Life events that are common during middle age can also exacerbate the effects of these hormone changes and impact a woman’s mental well-being. Experiencing a divorce, becoming empty-nesters, or struggling through the death of a parent all present enough challenges on their own; throwing a wrench in the gears of a woman’s endocrine system makes those events significantly harder to manage.    Ain't nobody got time for that!   While you can’t avoid menopause running its course, you don’t have to take depression laying down (unless of course, you’re taking an extra nap, which we do recommend). If you believe that you are experiencing depression, the best thing you can do is consult with a specialist in women’s issues who can provide you with a customized treatment plan.     Click here to learn more about Dr. Daniella A. Davis - Specialist in Women's Issues      Other helpful lifestyle changes that you can immediately start implementing include:         The laundry can wait – start putting sleep first     Insomnia is a cardinal symptom of menopause. Whenever you feel tired, make sleep a priority. You might feel guilty prioritizing sleep during the day, but think about it - you wouldn’t look down on a pregnant woman for sleeping in while her hormones were going haywire. What you are experiencing is no different.          Talk to your doctor      Anxiety can intensify memory loss, making it hard to manage work and family life. Talk to your doctor about anti-anxiety medication or hormone level assessments to help you get back to feeling yourself.          Nutrition is key     A healthy and balanced diet has a significant impact on psychological well-being. Your healthcare professional can help you establish a customized eating plan. As a start, try increasing water consumption, reducing sugar intake, and avoid skipping meals.         Check out the vitamin aisle      Depression has been linked to a shortage of certain vitamins and minerals in the body. Adding a multi-vitamin or other supplements can boost your body’s ability to fight depressive symptoms. Look for vitamins and supplements that include:    Vitamins B6    Vitamin B12    Vitamin D    Folic acid    Calcium    Iron    Magnesium    Selenium    Zinc    Omega-3 acids.             Self-care     Since the dawn of time, this has been a tough one for the ladies. Women tend to put unrealistic expectations on themselves and often feel inadequate. Don’t be afraid to ask for extra help with housekeeping or errands during this stage of life. This can be difficult for middle age women who feel their responsibilities are doubled while caring for both aging parents and children. Understand that you can only give your family your best self when your well-being is cared for first.         Physical activity     Some studies have shown that women with low physical activity are at a heightened risk for depression related to menopause. While many experts recommend 30 minutes of exercise three times a week, a brisk 10 minute walk a few times a week can get your endorphins flowing and help relieve your symptoms.         Take it in stride     The great news about menopause is that it happens to all of us women, and talking about it to your girlfriends, laughing about your hot flashes, and sharing “I almost cut my husband’s head-off” stories can be a great way to take the edge off this normal life occurrence.       Variations Psychology: We’re in this together      While menopause is something that all women can bond over, sometimes venting to your hairdresser just doesn’t cut it. If you’ve been struggling with depression, Variations Psychology can help.       
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                 More about Variations Psychology     Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References   http://www.estrogel.com/what-is-menopause/natural-menopause  University of Michigan Depression Center – Depression During Menopause - http://www.depressiontoolkit.org/women/menopause.asp    National Center for Biotechnology Information -https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2901893/    How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). Menopause and Depression: How to Feel Yourself Again.  Psychologically Speaking .  [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/menopause-and-depression

Menopause and Depression: How to Feel Yourself Again

Middle age isn’t what it was 50 years ago. Women like Jennifer Lopez, Cindy Crawford, and Halle Berry are all a testament that “50 is the new 20,” and that when it comes to living a full, vivacious life, age is just a number. For many women, their 40’s and 50’s are some of their most enjoyable years.