Is a man in your life in denial about their depression, anxiety, or inability to express themselves emotionally? Unfortunately, for many men who are depressed, they were never taught to express their emotions or use their voice in a healthy way as a child or teenager. For many men, they were taught that being strong meant that they hold all of their feelings inside and the only “masculine” expression they were allowed to let out came in the form of anger or rage. In fact, many men who are constantly “irritable” do not even know that chronic irritability is a sign of underlying depression.
Unfortunately, many men don’t enter counseling or psychotherapy until they “have a reason” and that “reason” often comes from someone in their life (spouse, partner, boss, courts) demanding that they attend. If you have a man in your life who is not willing to work on themselves outside of the gym, office, or their quarterly stock statements, it may be time to plant the seed with some not-so-subtle holiday gifts. And if that doesn’t work, I write below about why it is ok to manipulate the male in your life into attending counseling.
Men who are depressed or anxious and are in denial about their mental state, often seek relief through a series of stereotypical and unhealthy behaviors. Do you have a man in your life who is exhibiting any of the following behaviors?
- Working too much even if they don’t need the money (workaholism)
- All they talk about is their job
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Thinks he is fine to drink and drive
- Smoking or using too much marijuana
- Viewing pornography “all the time”
- Isolating themselves from friends or family
- Appearing irritable all of the time
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Obsessed with politics and rants often about geopolitical issues while ignoring their own behaviors
- Obsessing over their car/ truck or other objects
- Obsessed with conspiracy theories or religion and you can’t seem to have a “normal” conversation with them
- Gambling irresponsibly
- Ignoring their partner, spouse, etc.
- Ignoring their family members
- Loses touch with their male friends
- Is always quiet and doesn’t talk about how their life is
- Watching TV constantly
- Watching or reading the news incessantly
- Constantly on their electronic device (screen addiction)
- Eating unhealthy foods on the regular (fast food, etc.)
- Never exercising
- Exercising obsessively
- Blaming “women” for “everything”
- Blaming “gay people” for “everything”
- Blaming X political group “for everything”
- Complaining about “everything”
- Declares that they are never wrong about anything
- Is constantly arguing with those around them
- Gets into physical altercations with other people often
- Gaining a bunch of weight in the last 6 months
- Losing a lot of weight in the last 6 months
- Starts dressing in paramilitary gear and they have never been in the military
- Stockpiling weapons without explanation or cause
- Using illicit drugs (cocaine, meth, heroin, etc.)
- Engaging in risky sex with strangers
- Chronically coming home late and ignoring family members
- Spending excessive amounts of money that they don’t have
- Is frequently demonstrating extreme jealousy
- Begins to call your or others derogatory names
- Hits you or yells at you!? (Get help here: https://www.thehotline.org/)
- Begins to stalk people (that might call for a 911 call)
- etc. etc.
If you answered yes to some of the questions above, the man in your life may need intervention from a licensed professional counselor, a doctor, a psychiatrist or other licensed health professionals. The issue is that due to cultural issues, the unfortunate stigma around “mental health issues” and personal factors, many men do not want to “volunteer” to attend therapy. Some men can do just fine in support groups for men, but getting them to attend is like trying to get a raging bull into a pen without any tools or ropes.
Holiday Gifts for Men!
Oh yeah! Here is the holiday gift section for the man in your life who doesn’t want to talk about it, is clearly in denial of their depression, anxiety, or PTSD, and doesn’t want to attend psychotherapy. Hopefully he likes to read books, or LISTEN to books (audio books are cool!).
- Nothing’s Wrong: A Man’s Guide to Managing His Feelings (Learn to Express Your Emotions in a Healthy Way)
- What Happened to You? (About Trauma)
- For the Skeptic in Your Life: Why Therapy Works Using Our Minds to Change Our Brains
- Emotional Intimacy: A Comprehensive Guide for Connecting with the Power of your Emotions.
- Cry like a man: Fighting for freedom from emotional incarceration
- Be Less Dickish: The Definitive Self-Help Book for Men
If he won’t read a book, maybe he will listen to a podcast about men that references books?
- Authentic Masculinity and the Second Half of Life
- Masculinity and the Shadow: The Darkside of Being a Man
- Male Psychology in Simple Terms: What the hell is going on with us men?
- Men in Therapy: What it means to be a Man and how it affects all of us
- Pondering the roles of Men, Power, Ego, and other Unanswerable Questions
What if the man in my life won’t read any books? What if the man in my life won’t listen to podcasts about self help? What if the man in my life is refusing to attend therapy?
Can I force the man in my life into changing? How do I get the man in my life to attend counseling?
- To family members who live or are in a relationship with a depressed, anxious, or angry man:
You CANNOT make them change. All of your words, pleading, begging, nagging, emotional pleas, interventions, etc will not cause them to change. Change takes time and it takes investment. The man must DECIDE to change on his own. If he decides not to change, he will face the consequences of his actions–and unfortunately, so will those that love him. But there is another way.
- To Men:
Men that actually have the courage to face their “inner battles” will usually emerge victorious. But men, you CANNOT do this on your own. That is total bullshit and you know it. All the famous men throughout history that were on the “side of good” had mentors–usually male, but also female mentors that helped and guided them. Common dudes, get over your ego and start becoming the strong man that everyone sees you can be–on the inside–not just the outside.
- To the Families and Friends of Men:
You CAN do everything in your power to force a man to attend individual or group therapy. Research has demonstrated that people who are mandated or “forced” into therapy have just as successful outcomes (overall) as people who voluntarily elect to attend psychotherapy. That is because for over 79% of people, counseling is very effective. If you want to learn about ways to get your loved one into treatment (psychotherapy), check out the following books about behavioral incentives and boundaries.
Getting professional help for men who are depressed or their loved ones:
If you’re struggling with a man in your life or you are a man who is ready to give up his fear of being vulnerable and is ready to tackle the ultimate battle (the war inside of you), then consider contacting Health for Life Counseling in Michigan via telehealth, or in person in Grand Rapids and Ada, MI. The professional counselors at Health for Life Counseling are here to help! Our trauma-informed counseling center offers EMDR treatment as well to help men become emotionally strong, not just physically. For a man to gain relationship skills so that he becomes happy in his relationships instead of miserable–he must work on himself; psychotherapy is a great place to start.