Why It’s Hard For Men To Tell You When They’re Depressed

June 5, 2018  |  
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I’m fortunate to have arrived at a place in my relationship where my boyfriend knows he can tell me pretty much anything and I won’t judge him, or completely rethink the way I perceive him. But there is one issue that he still tries to hide just as much as possible: depression. He certainly isn’t someone who struggles with chronic depression but, as a living, breathing, emoting human being, he occasionally faces bouts of depression. And by the time he tells me about these, he usually adds, “Its been going on for a couple weeks.” Sometimes he only tells me he has been depressed once it’s over. I can’t believe he could conceal something like that for so long but the truth is, a lot of men I know are like that. Here is why it’s so hard for men to tell you when they’re depressed, and what you can do to help them.

 

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They want to be the protectors

Men have an innate need to be the protector in their brood. They want the ones they love to feel unconditionally protected by them, and they worry that stating they are depressed will make them appear like a less-than-adequate provider of protection, resources–you name it.

 

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How to confront it

If your partner is depressed, don’t go out of your way to relieve him of his responsibilities. Don’t tell him he doesn’t have to handle this task or attend this event because he is depressed. In other words, don’t treat him as fragile. He doesn’t want to feel that you fear his depression makes him incapable of upholding his responsibilities.

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They don’t want to worry you

Depression can and has derailed many individual’s lives. Your partner doesn’t want you to fear that his depression will take him off track in his career goals and, ultimately, financial goals. And he doesn’t want you worrying that there is no end in sight to this problem.

 

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How to confront it

The best thing you can do is not to panic or look truly frightened about your partner’s depression. You should obviously be concerned and compassionate, but you should also maintain a calmness that tells him you have no doubt that this will pass. 

 

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They’re fixers

Men are problem solvers. They’re fixers. They are solution finders. They feel that being depressed isn’t a solution to anything. Or, at least, that stating they are depressed doesn’t bring them closer to healing their depression.

 

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How to confront it

A lot of men don’t realize that talking about emotions is, in fact, productive. And that holding in emotions makes them foggy and hinders them from being able to clearly find a solution. If you reframe discussions about depression as practical steps to fixing the issue, you could open your partner up to talking about it.

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Boys are mean

When they were young, boys kind of couldn’t cry. I mean, they could but, they would face a lot of traumatizing ridicule. That lasts sadly until a man is past college. It’s just our society. It’s silly, but it’s steadfast.

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How to confront it

You’ll have to work the long con to help your partner get over this, but female partners often can be the first people who make their male companions comfortable being vulnerable. You can do this in two ways: 1) be vulnerable yourself and 2) don’t make a big thing about it when your partner has small moments of vulnerability. Don’t sound the alarms or throw a parade. Act like it’s the most natural thing in the world and he will begin to feel that way.

 

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They’re taught to be self-sufficient

Men’s childhoods are all about Eagle Scouts and survival camps and learning how to deal with it–whatever it is–themselves. They can have the same approach to their depression.

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How to confront it

Tell your partner that, if you’re going to be life partners, that you have to know what’s going on with him. It’s just part of the deal. When you’re both aware of the other one’s state of emotions then you can make decisions that are best for the team.

 

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They need it to be private

Sometimes men don’t open up to their partners about depression because they don’t want the information getting out to their friends. 

 

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How to confront it

If a man is willing to open up to you, be grateful and then be quiet. In other words, don’t call his friends to tell them he is depressed and needs cheering up. It’s up to him who he tells.

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They want to be strong for you

Men often feel pressure to carry the emotional weight of themselves and their partners. They consider it their duty to lift you up if you’re depressed, and fear that if you know they’re depressed, you won’t bring your problems to them.

 

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How to confront it

Honestly, if your partner feels he needs to hide his emotions to be strong for you then he will just wind up resenting you. A resentful partner can’t be a supportive partner. Tell him that.

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Be his emotional guide

One of the many, many ways we can be great for our partners is that, as women, we give men a chance to be very close to someone who is comfortable with her emotions and willing to open up. Often, none of their male friends ever did that so they just didn’t know that that was okay. But, getting a man to be completely ready to admit when he’s struggling with depression and other difficult issues is a bumpy road. So tread lightly and make sure your take the right approach.

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