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Breaking the Silence: Coping with stress and depression

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Stress and Depression

Men and women handle stress differently – and women tend to be a little better at it.

St. Vincent’s Behavioral Health’s LeKeesha Miller-Jackson, MSW (L) and Department Chair Stewart Levine, MD (R) team up to tackle triggers and treatment of stress and depression for men.


So how can men better cope with the stress in their lives? “Talk about it,” says LeKeesha Miller-Jackson, MSW, a social worker with St. Vincent’s Behavioral Health Services. “It’s not uncommon for men to avoid discussing issues that are causing stress or depression in their life. For some, it’s a cultural or social stigma. Men aren’t supposed to cry or deal with emotional issues. Others may not be aware of what triggers their stress, or that their behavior has changed.”

The most common triggers for stress in men are:

  • Relationships
  • Money
  • Career
  • Health
  • Childhood trauma/PTSD   

Working Through It

Everybody has stress – but how do you handle it? “Some men think ‘I’m functioning fine because I work’” said Stewart Levine, MD, Chair of Psychiatry at St. Vincent’s Behavioral Services. “Meanwhile, they may be really struggling in other areas of their life. It’s important for men to take a look at how they’re functioning in other areas, such as socially, sexually and domestically. They may not notice the impact that their stress or depression might be having on the people around them.”

Symptoms of stress or depression that must be taken seriously include:

  • Excessive drinking
  • Risk taking
  • Angry outbursts
  • Isolation
  • Thoughts of suicide

He used to be the life of the party!   

Sometimes it takes somebody else - a partner, a caretaker, a friend - to help one realize that their stress or depression is a problem. If you are experiencing symptoms that interfere with your life and relationships, it’s time to talk about it – but spare the bartender. “It’s easier for some people to share their problems with a bartender rather than someone who really knows them,” said LeKeesha.

“There’s something to that cliché,” said Dr. Levine. “People suffering from stress or depression may try to numb or drown those feelings with alcohol, which of course is a recipe for disaster. Talking to a close friend, family member or clergy, or asking for professional help, is a much better approach and an important first step.”

Both Dr. Levine and LeKeesha said they have seen patients who were able to find some significant physical and emotional relief from stress by taking that first step. Activities such as exercise, meditation and massage can also be very effective stress relievers.

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This article was previously published in the Mandate, a free quarterly publication just for men - from St. Vincent's. 

To learn more about St. Vincent's Behavioral Health Services, visit stvincentsbehavioralhealth.org

To learn more about Men's Health at St. Vincent's, visit stvincents.org/menshealth

 

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