PTSD Awareness Month: Men with social support system don’t seek help for depression, says study

Not everyone experiences similar symptoms of depression, neither each person tackles it in the same way. Depression among men remains largely ignored, which is reflected from a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which revealed that only less than half of depressed American men seek treatment for the mental disorder. A report, titled “Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Men’s Use of Mental Health Treatments,” showed that nearly 9 percent American men exhibited symptoms of anxiety or depression on a daily basis.

Mental disorders like depression can make a man feel weak and negative, but having support from loved ones can help suppress the negative emotions linked with depression. A recent study, published online in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry in December 2015, revealed that having a supportive social group may prevent some men from seeking help from a certified professional; however, the situation may not hold true for depressed women.

Stressing on the understanding that men’s health needs to be understood as a family health issue, Congressman Bill Richardson had said in 1994: “Recognizing and preventing men’s health problems is not just a man’s issue. Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, men’s health is truly a family issue.”

Female patients sought medical help irrespective of support

The researchers examined 1,379 adults who had enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which was designed to measure health and nutritional status of both adults and children in America.

Elucidating on how a solid social support system can help alleviate symptoms of depression in some people, co-author of the study Alan Teo, an assistant psychiatry professor at Oregon Health and Science University and researcher at the VA Portland Health Care System, said, “Social support is, generally speaking, a good thing. In many ways, it buffers against depression in the first place. You have a confidant — someone to reach out and talk to is really helpful for all different aspects of your health, depression or otherwise.”

Teo said that there might be areas where social support might work against treatment for those who have clinical depression. For some men, support can be a substitute for professional help, or it may be possible that men have a more “unfavorable attitude toward using mental health services.”

The results revealed that 26 percent of the depressed respondents with proper social support shied away from approaching a professional help as compared to 47 percent of depressed participants who lacked any social support but had decided to receive accredited medical help. But the observations were different in female respondents, who sought medical help irrespective of support from peers and loved ones.

“One of the key conclusions here is gender seems to be a driving factor in whether these patients actually seek treatment from a mental health professional. Men seem to be on the losing end of that stick,” said Teo.

Leading a happy life

To raise public awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and make available effective treatments, the National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD) observes June as the PTSD Awareness Month. The campaign aims to bring about a greater awareness among Americans about the PTSD problem that may result from a single traumatic event or a series of events involving natural or man-made disasters, the effects of war or the stress caused by combat or conflicting issues.

If any male member of your family is suffering from depression, you must seek professional help from the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline to know about one of the best mental health centers. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 for further expert advice about various mental health illnesses.