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Male depression: a hidden reason good men behave badly

Letter to the Editor

What did these great men have in common: Luther, Calvin, Charles Wesley, Spurgeon, Goethe, Tolstoy, Robert E. Lee, Lincoln, Churchill, Martin Luther King, Mike Wallace, and Nelson Mandela? According to Archibald D. Hart, each man suffered from depression (15-17).

For years, depression was not discussed. “In fact,” says Hart, former Dean of the Graduate School of Psychology at Fuller Seminary, “until a mere 50 years ago, you were lucky not to end up in a mental institution if you had a severe depression” (19).

In Unmasking Male Depression, Hart says that “depression goes undiagnosed in two-thirds of the men who suffer it,” because of myths that real men are never depressed (19).

Hart says that male depression often has atypical symptoms that hide it and keep it from being treated: “Many, but not all, people who are depressed feel the classic symptoms of intense sadness and dejection . . . [But] we need to . . . look for quite another set of characteristics [including] grumpiness, irritability, moodiness, sulking, overt anger, anxiety, agitation, preoccupation with work, and other distractions [that] dominate the clinical picture of male depression” (52-53).

In real life, losing really hurts—getting fired, downsized or demoted—losing a spouse through death or divorce—facing the approaching death of an ill friend or family member—all of these losses can trigger chronic depression.

Most depression can be lifted, says Hart, through counseling, positive mental coping methods, antidepressants, or some combination of these: “The day finally comes, at least for most, when the depression lifts and wholeness returns. For a very few, depression does not remit. If this is where you are, then hold on to one last promise [from Christ:] “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness’” (244).

I encourage anyone with symptoms of depression to take a brief break and set up a diagnostic appointment with A to Z Counseling (PH: 208-476-7483) or any of the other reliable counseling agencies in Idaho County.

Gary Altman



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