Men and Depression: Repressed Needs

I’m not going to start out by saying that depression is merely a function of not getting what you want. Depression has roots deeper than that explanation. It can be caused, or related to, nutritional imbalances, individual and varying biochemistry, neurochemical reasons (such as serotonin imbalances, or other neurotransmitters), and so on.

Many men I work with, however, experience depression as a reaction to deeply unmet needs. Many times, these men don’t know how to go about getting those needs met, so they will resort to employing the ineffective skills that they have learned growing up, which cause them to sink into depression. For men, being afraid of their anger, or speaking up for themselves, is threatening, so depression becomes “more comfortable” (relatively speaking) than activating their energy and going out into the world to get what they need.

Through poor interpersonal communication skills, a lot of guys can’t simply language what they need, either from a friend, a lover or an employer. The verbal skills aren’t there, and then these depressed men end up creating false assumptions about themselves that they link to that person or event. “Well, if I was worthy enough for their attention, then so-and-so would give me the time of day,” or “Well,if she really loved me, she wouldn’t be acting this way towards me. I must be flawed, or unlovable, and therefore unacceptable to her.” These are examples of the kind of self-talk that puts us in the depressed state.

We end up fabricating evidence based on assumptions we make up about other people’s intentions, that reinforce the negative and critical beliefs we have about ourselves. This perpetuates the cycle of depression, and we continue to look for that “evidence” out in the world, to continually reinforce those beliefs over and over again, getting us more and more depressed. We are creating our own reality, because our beliefs about ourselves are negative, all-consuming, and powerful.

Fortunately, we can change those beliefs, burn out what is not working in our lives, and start to look for “affirming evidence.” The negative messages are not us – as many guys falsely believe – but when we take those messages on as our identity, we end up creating a lot of problems for ourselves, such as depression.

About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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