Men scared to say they are de­pressed

Be­tween so­ci­etal dic­tates that say men should not show emo­tion and poor health in­sur­ance, odds stack up against them

The National - News - - The Emirates - Anam Rizvi news­desk@then­

DUBAI // Most cases of male de­pres­sion are not re­ported be­cause men are afraid to ad­mit some­thing is wrong, men­tal health ex­perts say.

Glob­ally, about 5 to 10 per cent of men are de­pressed but not many in the UAE seek help. Those who do tend to wait a long time first.

Dr Tho­raiya Kanafani, clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist and co-owner of the Hu­man Re­la­tions In­sti­tute and Clin­ics, said there was a lot of un­der­re­port­ing for male de­pres­sion.

Men are so­cialised to be­lieve they need to sup­press emo­tional re­sponses, she said.

They are taught they need to be tough, in­de­pen­dent and in con­trol.

So­ci­etal pres­sure makes it very dif­fi­cult for men to ad­mit they need help be­cause they are afraid of be­ing looked down on.

“They make state­ments like ‘ I’m so weak’ and ‘ I’m not strong enough’, rather than look at it from the re­al­ity that de­pres­sion is a health dis­or­der and you can’t blame a per­son for it,” Dr Kanafani said.

“A lot of cases aren’t di­ag­nosed be­cause of a bias. It’s much eas­ier for male doc­tors to di­ag­nose men with stress but not with de­pres­sion.” There are many causes of de­pres­sion. Those who have a fam­ily his­tory of men­tal-health dis­or­ders are more at risk but so­cial causes can be a trig­ger.

Em­ploy­ment is a big fac­tor in de­pres­sion in the UAE, as are fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties, di­vorce, the ar­rival of chil­dren, mar­riage or work prob­lems and sub­stance abuse.

But bi­o­log­i­cal causes such as an ab­nor­mal or re­duced amount of neu­tron trans­mit­ters can also be a fac­tor.

The on­set of de­pres­sion in men is usu­ally be­tween the ages of 30 and 40. Treat­ment de­pends on the sever­ity, with some need­ing med­i­ca­tion and oth­ers opt­ing for nat­u­ral reme­dies to re­lieve symp­toms. Ther­apy is also im­por­tant.

Dr Yaseen As­lam, a psy­chi­a­trist who has been work­ing in the UAE for three years, said a lack of in­sur­ance cov­er­age was a big prob­lem. “We need to cre­ate more aware­ness and ask for bet­ter cov­er­age,” Dr As­lam said.

“These poli­cies dis­crim­i­nate against peo­ple suf­fer­ing with men­tal dis­or­ders.

“This has a big ef­fect on the speed at which peo­ple can re­cover.

“There is a lack of in­for­ma­tion and statis­tics re­gard­ing de­pres­sion preva­lence in the UAE. “We need to know the de­mo­graph­ics of the peo­ple suf­fer­ing to pro­vide ap­pro­pri­ate men­tal health ser­vices. “Thirty per cent of my pa­tients are male and they mostly present with de­pres­sion or an anx­i­ety or panic dis­or­der.”

De­pres­sion does not dis­crim­i­nate, said Dr Sal­iha Afridi, a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Light­house Ara­bia in Dubai. “We see men from all parts of the world with de­pres­sion,” she said. “The rea­sons for their ill­ness might be dif­fer­ent but they are all ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the same symp­toms.

“Some groups will re­port de­pres­sion more than oth­ers. Asians, South Asians, Mid­dle East­ern and cer­tain Euro­pean coun­tries have a harder time dis­clos­ing their feel­ings to oth­ers, es­pe­cially a doc­tor.” An es­ti­mated 350 mil­lion peo­ple suf­fer from de­pres­sion.

‘ We need to cre­ate more aware­ness and ask for bet­ter health cov­er­age. Poli­cies dis­crim­i­nate against peo­ple suf­fer­ing with men­tal dis­or­ders Dr Yaseen As­lam psy­chi­a­trist

Reem Mo­hammed / The Na­tional

Clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Dr Tho­raiya Kanafani says a lot of cases of de­pres­sion in men are not di­ag­nosed be­cause of bias in doc­tors.

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