You will have come across the hidden face of male depression in your work, but you may not know it. Depression in men is hidden because depression presents in men differently to women in most cases. Often men are unaware they are depressed and may even exhibit destructive behaviours in the workplace. 1 in 3 of us will have a mental health issue in our lives. Only 25% of people who seek help for depression in the UK are men and yet recent studies conclude that the actual number of depressed men is nearer 50%. Why the discrepancy?
Commonly understood depressive behaviour like low moods and disproportionate emotional responses are not always exhibited in men who are depressed. Men tend to act out their emotional issues rather than express them. These behaviours can range from unhelpful to destructive. They are more likely to experience it in the form of:
Addictive behaviour – alcohol problems, affairs, gambling, eating, not eating and also addictive behaviour that can be viewed as acceptable like exercise or working. When these become obsessions it can be an indication of a deeper problem.
‘Leaking’ of inappropriate behaviour – This could be sexually inappropriate behaviour, inappropriate banter, teasing or bullying, outbursts, even stealing or criminal behaviour. The key difference between an indication of depressive tendencies and other issues is that a depressed man will feel bad about them afterwards, and it will just add to his feelings of worthlessness. They may go to some lengths to cover this up so that their behaviour stays hidden.
You can see how this all links together from a workplace? Depression in men is not just an issue for them, it’s an issue for everyone. The resulting behaviour can be destructive for other people and the organisation. Not all of these behaviours are indicative of a man being depressed but it is a clue. Men are not traditionally good at seeking help for depression, not wanting to appear weak, but they will often welcome Coaching or informal mentoring especially if it is linked to their work performance. Any form of support, where they can talk things out, will help, especially if the person helping is educated in male depression. If we can help men rather than demonise them, the impact on business world and could be huge.
About the Authors:
John and Karen are the authors of the highly acclaimed book Real Leaders for the Real World (£12.99, Panoma Press), and founders of Monkey Puzzle Training and Consultancy, a leading UK training company in NLP. (wwwmonkeypuzzletraining.co.uk). Karen is a UKCP registered Psychotherapist and John is a Clinical Hypnotherapist.