October 6 is National Depression Screening Day. Considering 6 million men are diagnosed with depression every year, that’s worth talking about. The popular misconception that depression is short-hand for “whining baby who can’t hack it” is like a perm on a man—cool for your father’s generation, not so much anymore. Not all men need a depression screening or even counseling. When you’re feeling low, however, you need to deal with it constructively. Here are seven ways to man up and get happy, rather than seething in a stew of self-hatred.
When you’re feeling really down, you probably won’t want to go for a run. Whatever, dude. Suck it up and get your run on. The Mayo Clinic identifies regular exercise as one of the easiest ways to prevent and do away with anxiety and depression. You’ll gain confidence, get your mind off whatever is bothering you and maybe even socialize with friends. Plus there’s that whole endorphins thing.
2. Nosh Better
Eating right is another area essential for the man leaving his extended adolescence. Getting all your nutrients will help avoid depression. “Smart” carbs like fruits, vegetable and legumes provide fiber and release the mood elevator serotonin. Get your vitamin D either from the sun or from food. Omega-3 fatty acids, which you can get from walnuts and salmon, also boost your mood.
3. Talk It Out
You don’t have to get all Oprah to have a good talk. Calling an old friend and having a chat—not a cry session with ice cream and Lifetime movies, just a chat—can help you to get over the hump on days when you’re feeling down. You won’t seem like a whiner unless you are, which you’re probably not. So suck it up and make a phone call.
4. Do Something You Like
This isn’t brain surgery. Whether it’s watching your favorite movie (why not Borat? he seems like a happy guy), cheering for your favorite team or playing with your dog, doing the things you like doing helps to improve your quality of life and combat depression. Note: if your favorite team is the Rams, pick a new team.
5. Think Positive
Negative thoughts about yourself often accompany depression. It sounds totally stupid, but keeping track of these thoughts and evaluating them later helps, as does thinking something nice about yourself after you think something bad. Don’t believe us? Try it, dude. It’s fucking science.
6. Talk to a Doc
When all else fails, talk to a doctor. In some cases, depression can be dealt with through better self-care. In many cases it cannot. Your doctor can recommend a therapy program or medication if that’s what’s right for you. The idea that a doctor will simply try and dope you up isn’t founded in reality. In all but the most extreme cases, doctors are respectful of your desire to remain drug free. Your doctor might, however, be able to refer you to a qualified depression specialist to help you determine the best way to improve your situation.
7. Get Help
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach and if the other stuff isn’t working, you obviously can’t handle it on your own. Reaching out for help can be hard, but getting the help you need isn’t just about you—it’s also about your buddies, your girl and your family. Don’t trick yourself into thinking your suffering doesn’t affect them. It does, and you’re frankly kind of a dick if you don’t care.