Men's Health Week - Focus on Depression

Men's Health Week
9th - 15th June 2014

Health and Well-being is not just about the physical side of life, the mental and emotional health is equally, some say more, important.  This applies to men and women alike.

Unfortunately, men are far less likely to visit a mental health service provider than women, this is why we think it is important to bring this to everyone's attention during Men’s Health Week.

While it is of equal importance between genders women are much more likely to reach out for help when it comes to mental illness.  If fact when compared with men they are twice as likely to seek appropriate help.  There are many possibilities for this, including
  • Stigma surrounding mental health - Feelings of shame or embarrassment
  • Lack of awareness or understanding about mental health issues 
  • Unsure how or where to get support
  • Reluctance about openly discussing their health and feelings

Mental illness comes in all different shapes and affects everyone differently, today we will focus on depression, which has a significant impact on the individual, their family, friends and even the wider community.

What is Depression?
We all experience sadness and low moods at times, but depression is more than that, it is a serious illness that is characterised by extreme and overwhelming feelings of sadness over long periods of time (at least 2 weeks), it can even occur without any apparent reason².

The good news is that depression can be managed through effective treatments and lifestyle changes. The first step in managing depression is by recognising and acknowledging that something isn’t quite right.

Signs of Depression

  • Relying on alcohol, sedatives or drugs
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Withdrawal from family or friends   
  • Loss of interest in, and withdrawal from, usually enjoyable activities 

  • Overwhelmed
  • Frustrated
  • Miserable
  • Irritable

  • ‘People would be better off without me’
  • ‘Nothing good ever happens to me’
  • ‘It’s my fault’
  •  'I'm useless'


  • Tired all the time
  • Sleep problems
  • Loss or change of appetite (unexpected changes in weight)
  • Sick and run down

If you are wondering if a friend or partner might be struggling with low mood and depression here are some questions you can ask yourself.
  • Does he seem moody? Men particularly, will often disguise larger personal problems by complaining about the little things.
  • Has his routine changed? Radical changes in behaviour, like missing footy or suddenly drinking excessively, can indicate  that something isn’t quite right.
  • Is he acting strangely? Look at how he talks to others. Is he more shy or more confident than usual? Or is he snappy towards others?

These are common signs seen in men who are experiencing depression.

We all experience these symptoms from time to time so how do you know if it is depression?
If you or someone you care about experiences a combination of these signs for more than 2 weeks then they may be suffering from depression. Click this link to perform an Anxiety and Depression Checklist.³

The good news is that there is a lot of information and understanding about low mood and depression.  So there are more and more resources available for anyone who is at risk.  Many of them have are offered free of charge and can be anonymous.

How can you help?

The most important and helpful thing you can do is be supportive and listen to what they have to say. It can be difficult for blokes to open up about their health and feelings, so here are a few tips to help him through his difficult time.

  • Get him talking: Avoid directly asking what the problem is as this can make him defensive, ask "Are you OK??"
    Let him know you are concerned about him and you want to help.
  • Go somewhere discreet: Avoid this conversation when other people are around. Try going somewhere comfortable and quiet where you can openly talk.
  • Ask questions rather than offering answers: Asking open questions will allow your friend to do the talking. Allowing them to talk is most often more beneficial than your advice, it may make him defensive and stop him from sharing his problems.
  • Keep it serious: Often we try to avoid awkward conversations by turning the topic into a joke. But this isn’t a good time to joke around, he may think you are not taking his problems seriously.⁴

Remember you don't have to solve the issue for them, so don't feel pressure.  Often people just get a lot help knowing that someone will listen and not judge them.  One of the best things you can do is point them in the right direction of some help. The following links are a huge repository of free help.  Research and clinical experience suggests that self education is an extremely helpful part of the recovery from low mood, depression and anxiety.

Beyond Blue
Ph: 1300 22 4636

Beyond Blue: Man Therapy
* Website specifically for Men’s Mental Health

Men's Line
Is a free men's counselling  service that has online and free call options and is 24 hours a day.
Phone 1300 78 99 78

A free online (or phone) screening and education program for anxiety, low mood and depression, run by the Macquarie University
Phone 1800 61 44 34

Mood gym
A free online education program for learning to prevent low mood and depression managed by the Australian National University

Ph: 13 11 14

Kids Help Line (if under 18 years)
Ph: 1800 55 1800

How to help improve mood.

Download / By danka peter
Depression is a serious health concern and it cannot be cured overnight but there are some lifestyle changes you can make to help manage the condition.

  • Improve stress management and where possible reduce unnecessary stress 
  • Eat a well balanced diet 
    • Lots of fresh foods, fruit and vegetables
  • Get a good night’s sleep: 
    • For tips click here
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Spend time outdoors
    • Get some sun and fresh air
  • Exercise regularly
  • Self Education
    •  Libraries, books, online courses
  • Professional Help

How can we at Be Smart Get Supple help?
In most cases, depression is greatly improved with a combination of lifestyle changes and non-drug therapy. Exercise and meditation are regularly suggested to help manage stress that may contribute to the depression.

Studies have shown that mental illness can be associated with a lack of particular nutrients in your diet. However, there is so much information out there about what is supposed to be “good for you” it can be hard to sort the fiction out from the facts.

Our Accredited Practicing Dietitians through CoreNutrition are University trained, and provide the most up to date facts about nutrition as a treatment for depression. They work to help you understand how food can affect your mood and ways to incorporate the nutrients you require to help manage your depression⁵.

Acupuncture may have benefits for certain types of depression, as it may be able to help manage  pain, stress and fatigue that may be a part of the depression. Combining Acupuncture with typical medical treatment may be worth considering, but one should always seek qualified advice before adding to any treatment regimen for any severe health condition to determine appropriateness or risks for the individual.

Have a dread of needles? Be rest assured there are other options that don't require their use.  Laser acupuncture may be used to replace needles.

Brendon Supple, our acupuncturist uses both traditional techniques combined with modern technology, such as laser acupuncture. He is also a physiotherapist and uses elements of both of these professions during his consideration of each case.

Massage has been recommended for years to help manage the physical symptoms of stress.  Different forms of massage may help to calm an overstimulated body, reduce stress and recharge the body.  The most helpful forms of massage are usually a longer massage that is neither too deep and hard, nor light and fluffy, but somewhere in between.   The massage therapists at Be Smart Get Supple are highly skilled at tailoring treatments guided by body's responses.

To book for Massage, Acupuncture or Dietitian consultation call 8346 3495.

1. Movember Foundation. Men’s health.
2. Beyond Blue. (2014). Depression
3. Beyond Blue. (2014). Depression: Signs and Symptoms
4. Health Direct Australia. (2013). Is it the blues?
5. Mental Health Foundation.

Image Credits:

1. Mens health Week
2. Matchstick via Every Stock Photo
3. Jstn via Unsplash
4. Hotblack via Morgue File