Psychotherapy Perspectives

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Men Following Traditional Gender Roles Often Won't Accept Help or Counseling

by Garth Mintun, LCSW, ACSW

You are not alone among men who feel they cannot receive help. You cannot help it; you have been socialized to not receive help and are a part of learned gender roles that have existed in our North American society for over 300 years. Here are some facts regarding men.

1. Men, like the western lone hero solve all their problems and other peoples problems by themselves.
2. Showing emotions is a weakness to avoid at all cost.
3. Being close or emotionally vulnerable to another man could be perceived as “gay” and that makes me withdraw emotionally and want to appear invincible.
4. Suicide is the leading cause of death for white males between the ages of 15 to 24 and the rates increase dramatically as men age.
5. Men commit suicide up to 8 times more then women and twice the amount of women are diagnosed for depression. 50% fewer men are in counseling then women.
6. Men die in this country 7 years on average before women die.
7. 90% of the homicide/suicide offenders are men
8. Men bond through drinking together or sports activities, fact or Myth? ( myth-relationship is at a superficial level)
9. Men often rely on one woman usually to meet all emotional needs.
10. Boys are nine times more likely to suffer from hyperactivity then girls

Along with these facts are certain “ codes of masculinity ( Pollack and Levant) which requires men to be aggressive, dominant, achievement oriented, competitive, rigidly self –sufficient, adventure seeking , willing to take risks, emotionally restricted and constituted to avoid all things feminine” Quotes from “New Psychotherapy for Men, by William S Pollack and Ronald F. Levant

How Men can take Action

Your personal crisis is your opportunity to change. Take advantage of this experience, i.e., failed relationship (s), career burnout, events that lead to depression, anxiety, and isolation and reach out for help. Please don’t try to be a super hero from Hollywood and ask for help from your support system or receive professional help.

First educate yourself on how the myths of gender are unrealistic in real life and often consists the opposite for us. Never being vulnerable means emotionally “breaking “sooner or later and becoming more vulnerable. Paradoxically, becoming more vulnerable and giving your restricted feelings a voice may make you stronger.

Secondly, go into a consulting or counseling relationship to work on emotional crisis, depression, situational crisis to “stop the emotional bleeding”, help repair some of the relationship (s) and learn how you catch yourself personally in the Male Myth or gender role bias. A therapist/consultant who is aware of male issues and has done his own work on himself is a must with this kind of work.

Thirdly, after one to one counseling, go to a men’s therapy or support group and learn how to interact with other men who want to become more authentic and break out of the gender role box. The combination of education, one on one counseling and therapy/support group is the best combination promoting authenticity with inner peace in the world.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Do you need Help with Depression?

Garth Mintun, LCSW, ACSW

How do you know if have “clinical depression”? The best way to find out is to talk to a mental health professional. A few “red flags” may help you decide to seek help.

1. Do you feel tired or have low energy all the time?

2. Do you either get too much sleep or not enough sleep?

3. Do you either eat very little or too much?

4. Do your friends tell you that you have changed and “are not yourself”

5. Do you feel isolated and alone?

6. Have you lost your support group, i.e., friends, family, relatives, work buddies, partners, spouse, boy/friend or girlfriend?

7. Do you feel sad and not know why?

8. Do you sometimes day dream of what the world would be like without you?

9. Do you notice it is difficult to focus at work and home and your productive nature has suffered?

10. Do you notice that you rarely smile, laugh or joke?

11. Do you sometimes become angry at the slightest provocation beyond the scope of the event?

12. Do you feel at a loss but don’t know what to do about it?

13. Do you find your concentration at work and at home is decreased, as though you feel you have an intermittent memory problem?

Saying yes to three or more of the above would indicate that you need to talk with a mental health professional and if you answer yes to eight, this is a strong indicator that therapy or counseling could be generally helpful.

You might also consider the strength and nature of your support system, and ask yourself if it is adequate and responsive to your needs.
Isolating and withdrawing from your normal activities can be a strong indicator of depression.
Both depression that is related to an event in your life and clinical depression tend to present with similar symptoms and both can benefit from mental health services

Research is consistent in finding that depression has best treatment results when the client receives a combination of medication and talk therapy services. Recent research indicates that when the side effects of medication are accounted for, talk therapy does at least as well as medication and perhaps better (see for more details). Also indicated in the research is that talk therapy is mandated when the symptoms of clinical depression are severe (see for more details).

Often a mental health professional and/or a psychotherapist can help you find a therapeutic group as well as individual counseling to help address the symptoms and causes of depression. When nurturing and caring people are seemingly absent in your life professional help in the form of individual therapy and group therapy can be very beneficial. The therapist and /or group can become the support you need until you find a natural support structure.

Often clinical depression has ramifications for a marriage, relationship and/or if one has children. Sometimes there are secondary effects on families and couples in which the other person becomes angry, sad or feels like they lost their “old friend, they once knew”. Whatever is the case for a person suffering from depression it is imperative to receive help quickly because depression has the potential to escalate to suicide or death wish ideation? With extreme severe depression, with suicide and death ideation, hospitalization inpatient/outpatient intensive such as partial hospitalization or ILP may be necessary. Insurance generally covers treatment for this service as well as out patient therapy.