Dr. Margaret Rutherford shares the results of her survey on men and depression.
Almost 1000 men responded.
To be exact 986.
I was asking men in a survey whether or not they had ever been depressed. If they had, would they ever tell anyone. Or seek treatment in some way. Medication. Therapy. If so, why. If not, why.
The answers I got? Some were expected. Some not at all.
What was fascinating were the comments. The things men wrote in. In either a space termed, “Other“. Or in a last section where we stated, “We might have missed something. Please tell us in your own words why you might or might not seek therapy, especially if you were really depressed or suicidal.”
The survey was included in the post “Real Men. More Suicide. What Will It Take For Men To Seek Help.” I reached male respondents through my Facebook page, the websites of wonderful blogger friends (listed below), and the vastly helpful support of The Good Men Project, who came on board with a bang. I further promoted to specific targeted groups on Facebook (using tags like pro football teams, hunting, fishing), hoping to balance out what I predicted would be skewed data (more men likely admitting depression.)
Thus this information is not “scientific.” This is far from a random, double-blind, controlled in any way study. But it’s information.
So here goes.
930 of you told us how old you were.
Teens: 1% 20s: 14% 30s: 18% 40s: 25% 50s: 24% 60s: 9% 70s: 2%
Heterosexual: 88% Non-heterosexual: 9%
95% of respondents stated they felt as if they had been depressed. This is a huge number obviously and does not correspond to what is found in common research literature. It is probable that that people were more drawn to respond to this survey if they had been depressed. (Results continue after the survey image.)
I don’t want to discount this entirely. Self-report measures (used in most depression research) may likely under-assess depression, due to its reliance on being open about reporting. Given that so many of these respondents would admit depression, it was incredibly interesting that so many within the group would not seek treatment.
37% would tell a family physician and seek medication. But 34% would not and 28% would go but would not accept medication.
28% would not consider therapy, with the largest majority of those being men in their 40’s and 50’s (34% and 29%, respectively). The same groups that the initial post stated were killing themselves in greater numbers.
So why? What are the reasons behind it?
The major reasons a guy would not tell anyone.
“I believe I can get over it myself.” 59%. Top reason.
“I would think I was weak. Less of a man.” 36%.
Self-determination and a perception that reaching out for help equates with fragility is what is driving the boat here.
Why would you go or why have you gone into therapy?
“I am (or was) at my wit’s end. I was tired of feeling this way.” 46%.
“I realized that my symptoms were having a negative impact on others.” 39%.
This was a wonderful and meaningful finding. Men care deeply about their families and their loved ones. If he truly can’t solve the problem himself, and can see that others are suffering along with him, he would be able to do what is perhaps not easy. Seek treatment.
If a guy would not go, why?
“I can’t afford it.” Money. 33%.
“I have not been one to ask for help.” 26%.
“I don’t believe others need to know.” 22%.
The fact that finances were #1 was surprising to me. I don’t know if people realize therapy is covered by insurance – that they often pay only a copay, just like their family physician. It depends on many factors. Therapy can be expensive, and many therapists these days don’t take insurance. I have worked out many arrangements with lots of folks. And know other therapists that do similar things.
Let’s move to the comments.
Some holding so much pain they were hard to read.
“I’m worth more dead than alive.”
“I haven’t because the source is still something I can’t face.”
“Professional suicide if I go, possibly death if I don’t.”
“Men are seen as not important or in need of help. They are largely ignored…”
“Had an attitude of the tough, quiet, silent male that can carry the world and be great at it… during this time I did occasionally think of suicide.”
Some that seemed to think of therapy as past-oriented, or as about medication.
“Therapy… is all about just giving someone happy pills.”
“How do I fix this? Therapy is about finding the root of the problem and while that may be the path to the solution, it seems less appealing…”
More positive comments.
“It helped me unlock and understand long buried issues.”
“Going to therapy is like asking for directions. The truth is that a good therapist helps YOU fix your own problem.”
“I realized I didn’t need help. I needed an outlet (therapy). Best decision of my life.”
I have learned a lot. We are continuing to look at the data and will glean more results.
To those of you who would not go to therapy, I ask you to consider this.
Think of a leader you respect. What does he or she do? They surround themselves with people who share their own expertise. They listen. Whether or not it is advice they agree with or not. Then they make a decision. They act. That’s what “going for help” is! That’s what I do, every day. I give my ideas to people about what I hear from them.
Please consider it. Especially if anywhere near hurting yourself.
If you took the survey, thank you so much.
I will be writing more about what all this means. And where it might lead us in the mental health community.
I also want to thank Midlife Boulevard (Sharon Greenthal and Anne Parris), The Shitastrophy (Alyson Herzig), Carol Cassara, Andee Zomerman from Nature Of A Servant, (who also had me on her radio show in Portland!), Beth Havey from Boomer Highway, Walker Thornton, and Kim Jorgensen Gane. Please check out all their wonderful websites!
Statistical Analysis: Ms. Ling Ting, University of Arkansas. Thank you Ling!
This article originally appeared on Dr. Margret Rutherford.com.