Shame, Grandiosity and Male Depression

Figures reported show that the prevalence of depression in women is twice as much as that in men. This is a major reason why male depression is often much less talked about. Do men not face depression at all? They do; they just hide it.

Depression in men is covert. While women would weep and openly express helplessness, men are conditioned differently. In most societies around the world, men are raised to meet the parameters of typical male dominance – insecurities, showing weakness, and expressing the need to be rescued is for the women.

“Boys don’t cry”, “don’t be such a girl”, “you’re a boy, you don’t need help for that”. Men, from the beginning, are conditioned with such injunctions that prohibit them to express their vulnerability, feelings, and helplessness. So, instead of reaching out for help, they tend to “man-up” about it and do what the man-code allows them to do – vent out anger and frustration.

What they grow up with tends to develop into a serious disorder by the time they are adults. Male depression, although hidden, is far more rampant than what we perceive it to be. When the extent of emotional turmoil in them finally unfolds upon them, most men develop a sense of shame – it is for them something unspeakable.

To overcome this shame, men usually resort to acts of self-medication that usually involve excessive drinking or substance abuse. Others choose radical isolation where they distance themselves from the ones closest to them (mostly partners and spouses). However, not all men have the tolerance to live with this shame.

These men then quickly gravitate to the other end of the scale – covering their sense of shame with grandiosity. The sense of superiority sometimes pushes them into denial. They’d rather be the bad boy indulged in womanizing, compulsive gambling, or daring acts, than be seen as a sad boy. At a more precarious phase, this bravado may turn into greater evils like domestic violence, homicide, or even suicide.

Truth is, men externalize their distress. They blame others for things that are wrong in them – and almost all of it stems from the way they are brought up – the societal code that tells them to suck it in and be a “man” about it.

Prolonged depression can have a debilitating impact on your personal and professional lives. Reaching out for help can change that. At Silicon Valley Marriage Counseling, we explore and discuss the causes and symptoms that lead to anxiety and depression in you, which helps us assist you through the process of overcoming these disorders.

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