It’s not just people who suffer material
hardships who are likely candidates for depression. It seems that those on the
other end of the spectrum, highly successful businessmen, are also prone to
fall victim to the condition.
Economic depression exacerbates clinical depression
Dr Ian Drever, Consultant Psychiatrist at
the Priory Hospital,
Woking who specialises in the treatment of
depression, says: “Depression is an illness with no obvious physical blueprint;
but contrary to what many people may think, strong-high-functioning people are particularly
at risk. This is because they can burden themselves with numerous
responsibilities, and try to 'soldier on’,” says Dr Drever.
This is particularly apparent at the
moment, at a time when economists claim that we are witnessing the longest depression
for 100 years. “Men may be at particular risk of depression triggered by
work-related stress, given the current economic climate and a time when the risk
of job loss is a very real threat,” adds Dr Drever. “Self-esteem and personal
identity are frequently closely aligned with career role, and this dynamic may
make men especially likely to suffer from a depressive reaction in the face of
redundancy or job threats.”
“Men also tend to evaluate themselves -
often negatively - against peers, and to set high, often unrealistic,
expectations of what they should be achieving, which can also trigger
depression,” adds Dr Drever.
Big boys do cry
Whilst there are some key common symptoms
of depression, such as feelings of helplessness, problems sleeping and concentrating,
anger and irritability, symptoms of depression can vary from person to person.
Men and women also tend to manifest and cope with depression differently.
For example, men often hide their feelings,
as was illustrated recently when former England-capped prop rugby player Duncan
Bell, revealed his 10 year battle with depression.
Whilst aware of his own inner turmoil off
the rugby field, it wasn’t until the club doctor probed him about his apparent
mood shifts that he finally broke down and unveiled the darkness, which lay
beneath. “This is typical behaviour of a man blighted with the disease. They
don’t want to appear weak and admit to what they perceive as failure,” says Dr
Men tend to delay seeking help for depression
“Sadly men often ignore symptoms until it
is too late,” adds Dr Drever. “Men have a greater tendency to dismiss physical
or psychological signs of illness, and often present to their GPs or other
healthcare professionals at a later stage, making it more likely that their
depression goes unrecognised and untreated. Tragically, in some cases men never
make it to the doctor and instead take their own lives.”
Such was the case forefront in Bell’s mind, of 24 year-old Selorm Kuadey, the bright
rugby prospect who played 16 times for Sale
and died in January after an apparent suicide.
A lot of men with depression continue to suffer in silence and turn to crutches such as alcohol to 'numb’ their feelings, which can exacerbate underlying depression, and make it more difficult to diagnose, explains Dr Drever. “They may also lose themselves in work as a means of distraction from their misery.”
“As a friend, partner or relative of a man who starts to exhibit these behaviours, it’s worthwhile considering an underlying deep-rooted sadness or depression and to encourage the person to talk about it and seek help from their doctor,” says Dr Drever. “Whilst it’s a terrible illness, in the right hands, it can be very successfully treated.”