Jan 29, 2020 News
Depression is a real issue and it certainly isn’t limited to women. This was the contention of Dr. Dennis Bassier, Coordinator of the Men’s Health Unit within the Ministry of Public Health, when he appeared on Monday as the guest on Kaieteur Radio’s [99.1FM. 99.5 FM] Your Health Matter.
By virtue of his work, Dr. Bassier has found that oftentimes men are unwilling to compromise their machismo by accepting a diagnosis of depression.
Depression, according to medical experts, is a rather common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how someone feels; the way they think and how they act. In fact, it has been proven that it can affect the sexes differently.
Reports suggest, too, that men with depression may have symptoms such as irritability, escapist or risky behaviour, misplaced anger and they could even resort to excessive use of alcohol and illicit drugs.
Further, men are also less likely than women to recognise depression or seek treatment for it.
“Men are affected but we have that mindset that we have to be the strong ones, the dominant ones, the breadwinner. So when we get depressed basically, it is like the end of the world…We are not supposed to get depressed.
“We are not supposed to show that weaker subdued, somewhat submissive side. So it is a major factor that influences men and their health and we need men to come forward with these things,” said Dr. Bassier.
According to the Men’s Health Coordinator, symptoms of depression in men can manifest in a number of ways.
“You might think that a person who is depressed might be somewhat gloomy, ‘under the weather’, slow moving, slow with their speech pattern but they can also be very agitated.
“They can be restless, like to pace, or be rather out spoken and somewhat verbally abusive, and even though you might think that is just a sign of them and their poor upbringing, lack of manners or whatever, the case may be, that could be the signs of depression,” Dr. Bassier explained.
He further expounded that the impact of depression could manifest in other ways including the loss or increase of appetite.
Alluding to what he described as “stress eating”, Dr. Bassier said, “They can sit down with a tub of ice cream or a tub of nut butter and a spoon and people may want to know what’s going on with them.
“But you need to get down to the root of it…start talking to them and find out what’s going on with them that’s leading them down this road.
“There might be involuntary weight gain or weight loss and you just need to figure out what’s happening with this person that changed them from their normal behaviour…They lose interest in things they would normally get some pleasurable feelings.”
For men suffering from depression and even substance or alcohol abuse, Dr. Bassier said that help is readily available. Such help, he said, can begin at the community health centre or even at the Ministry’s Mental Health Unit situated in Quamina Street, Georgetown.
“We have a lot of mental health professionals in the health care system, more than likely there is one in all health centres,” said Dr. Bassier.
He also referenced the Salvation Army and the Phoenix Recovery Project, calling them facilities that can lend needed support to those men who may who need help to overcome addiction.
But even before help can be forthcoming, Dr. Bassier stressed the importance of persons recognising their need for that help.
“They have to want to change. They themselves have to see something in their life, their partner, their community, their children…they have to recognise I’m not looking how I used to. At the end of the day, they are the ones who have to want to change,” said Dr. Bassier.
Through its national reach, the Men’s Health Unit has also been helping to tackle the challenge of depression as part of a tactical move to make men more aware of the importance of being healthy.
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