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Dealing With the Unseen Scars

Friday, June 9, 2006

posted by Andrew

When you say the words "..in sickness and in health..", you never quite imagine that you are going to have to remember those words and live them out in perpetuity. This is none more so correct than when depression rears its ugly head in marriage.

What is it about depression that elicits such fear or stigma?

  • Is it the stigma of having a mental illness?
  • Is it fear about the reasons someone might be depressed?
  • Or is it fear of the unknown?
  • Equally, is it fear of not knowing what to do or how to cope with a depressed partner?

The first thing that needs to be pointed out is that depression is a lot more common than first thought, and that all of us experience levels of depression at stages in our lives. The difference between those that need extra help pulling them out of depression and those that don’t, is the level of depression that each of us face, and the personal coping mechanisms that we develop to deal with it.

One of the reasons depression largely goes undiagnosed is the stigma that is attached to having depression, and this can be seen or portrayed by society as a form of weakness. This is particularly hard for men to deal with, as the expectation is often that the male in the relationship is the rock that holds everything together. An image that springs to mind is that of the Marlboro man in therapy. The image just doesn’t seem right. Picturing the Marlboro man talking about emotions and needing help goes against the tough, strong, macho image that he is so famous for.

Yet the stigma doesn’t extend to other health problems. An example of this is erectile dysfunction. After the advertisments for prescription medication such as Viagra and Cialis, men are approaching their doctors for treatment more than ever before. Perhaps there is a lesson to take from this.

Awareness. Raising public awareness of problems such as depression helps break down the fears associated with it, and can help men seek treatment without the associated guilt or shame. Perhaps removing loaded terms such as "therapy" or "counseling" with terms such as "consultations" and "workshops" are a key step to breaking down barriers.

Here are some interesting sites to visit if you want more information on depression and understanding how to treat it:

http://menanddepression.nimh.nih.gov/infopage.asp?id=10

http://www.concernedcounseling.com/Communities/depression/men_4.asp

http://menshealth.about.com/od/psychologicalissues/a/depression.htm

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