Monday, February 26, 2007

It Might Be Time For A Wake Up Call

Here is part of an informative and interesting article concerning men and depression. The effects of depression can be devastating and I often see most people poking fun at commercials dealing with such issues, especially guys. In case you were wondering I am posting this cause I do think some you need to read this. The rest of the article can be found here.

I also think that this article makes it quite apparent how society's socialization of men and women not only limit our opportunities to be well rounded individuals, it also shows that by limiting ourselves with supposed traits of men and women we are in essence killing ourselves. Okay, read the damn thing.

Exercising Your Demons
Some people might call you highly competitive. Some might call you superfit. But a growing number of doctors would label you something else: Depressed
By: Laurence Gonzales

In 1994, at the age of 33, Raymond Britt took up running. It made him feel good. In fact, the more he pushed himself, the better he felt. So each time he went out, he pushed a little harder. It seemed to put him above the turmoil of the world and afford him some relief. Relief from what -- that wasn't so clear. His life was good. He was a successful executive. He'd married his high-school sweetheart. He had beautiful children.

But there was something odd about it all. For one thing, he had no background as a runner. He'd been a powerlifter in his 20s, benching 315. But in the summer of '94, amid a hectic schedule, he happened to see a flier for the Chicago Marathon and was seized by the impulse to run it. Never mind that there were only a few weeks left to train. Never mind that he had never run more than 3 miles at a time. He thought, I can do anything for 5 hours and 30 minutes, which was the qualifying time to receive a finisher's medal.

He became obsessed with his training.

"I was excited, I was nervous, I was alive," he says. "My mother and my wife thought I was crazy." As he reached the 18th mile of the marathon, his hopes for a life-changing experience were shattered. Beating himself up both mentally and physically, he managed to drag his body over the finish line in 4 hours and 41 minutes, as he puts it, "alone, hurt, angry, unhappy."

Rather than recover, he went out the next day to punish himself and prepare for the next marathon.

Sex Differences

The study of how mental illness affects men and women differently is new and fraught with controversy. The first comprehensive survey was conducted between 1990 and 1992. Its aim was to estimate the general prevalence of mental illness.

The research, known as the National Comorbidity Survey, was repeated, in more depth and on a larger scale, between 2001 and 2003, under the auspices of the World Health Organization and with funding from the National Institute of Mental Health. The principal investigator is Ronald C. Kessler, Ph.D., a jolly-looking, bearded professor in the department of health-care policy at Harvard University.

The numbers seem to show that men and women suffer from various mental illnesses at about the same rate, with some notable variations and exceptions. One of the differences, long accepted as gospel by the psychiatric professions, is that twice as many women as men suffer from depression. Kessler says his numbers show that a woman is twice as likely as a man to have a single episode of major clinical depression in her life. After the first episode, however, men and women don't differ in the number of episodes they'll have during a lifetime, or in whether they'll have another episode. Only the first step differs, he says. Then the statistics flatten out to equal.

But if repeat episodes of depression are equal for men and women, doesn't it stand to reason that they may be having first bouts at the same rate? Maybe the discrepancy lies not in the number of men and women who are depressed, but rather, in how depression is expressed.

According to an increasing number of experts, the diagnostic tallies don't take into account the real experience of a lot of men like Britt. They also ignore the fact that women are much more likely to report depression and seek help. Men are more likely to try to fight through their depression, using strategies ranging from hard work to extreme exercise to drinking to violence. Nearly four times more men than women kill themselves...

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