Dr Anish Kotecha discusses how depression affects men in adolescence to young adulthood and the high risk of suicide
Depression typically presents with persistent low mood and a loss of pleasure in most activities, although there may be a range of other symptoms. It is a very common illness with a UK prevalence of around 4.5%.
It causes a significant amount of illness in younger people in particular. Half of young men suffer from further episodes of depression and anxiety in their young adult years after suffering an episode in adolescence.
This learning module will enable you to gain an understanding of the signs of possible depression in young men and the principles of treatment and approaches that may be of benefit.
Young men are at particularly high risk of suicide. UK figures indicate around three times as many men as women die by suicide, and this holds true across different ages including for the age group 10 to 24 years.
Yet evidence shows that young men are particularly reluctant to seek help or support for mental health problems. Potential barriers include denial of emotions, low mental health literacy, perceived stigma around mental illness, a fear of dependency and feelings of incompetency.
- Depression is a common mental health disorder within the community, particularly among younger people
- Young men tend not to recognise mental health problems and are reluctant to seek help, but are at particularly high risk of suicide, substance misuse and post-traumatic stress disorder
- It is important to be aware of risk factors and recognise potential symptoms of depression, and to assess the severity of the condition and its impact on that person and those around them, to offer appropriate management
- Young men with depression can be particularly difficult to reach, and are often the most complex to treat. It is important to find ways to help young men access support in primary care. Offering action- or skill-based alternatives to more formal talking therapies may be beneficial
Depression, once established, is categorised into being mild, moderate, or severe depending on the number of symptoms and their severity, as well as the impact on the person’s life.
When assessing anyone with depression, it is important to establish the psychological and social context. Identifying any concerns with regard to safeguarding is crucial – for example, if the person looks after others, or if they are themselves being looked after. If this is an issue, then following local safeguarding procedures is of paramount importance.
Dr Anish Kotecha, GP partner in South Wales, South-East Wales Faculty Education Lead and Cardiff University Communication Skills tutor and examiner.
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