Cultural barriers preventing men with depression from seeking treatment
More than six million men a year struggle with depression, and that may only be the tip of the iceberg.
"Society expects men to be strong," says "Johnny C". "They expect men to have it altogether, so it's a sign of weakness if we have to go seek out help."
Many men don't even know they have depression because the symptoms aren't what they thought.
"Everybody thinks of the connotated definition of depression -- oh, you're just sad," Johnny said. "This isn't sadness. This is a fog inside your head. It's a fog where you get to the point where you're trapped in the fog of your own mind. And you just get so angry at yourself and the world and the situation that you're in and it is soul-sucking."
Depression in men can show up as fatigue, lack of motivation, aloofness, anxiety, anger... even abusiveness. It can be masked by substance abuse or other risky behaviors.
Psychiatrist Dr. Venkata Sompalli says because depression is a disease of the brain, it touches every aspect of life.
"That means your feelings are affected, your thinking is affected, your judgement is affected, your intellect is also affected," she said.
Johnny says he would get mad over the dumbest stuff.
"It would just be scary kind of anger towards people," he said. "It would scare my family, scare my friends..."
Sometimes, though not always, there are suicidal thoughts. Dr. Sompalli says only a third of men who have depression get treatment.
"The main issue is the men that need most of the help are the least interested in it because of the cultural barriers," Sompalli said.
But 8 out of 10 cases can be successfully treated. Johnny C manages his depression with medication and awareness of his symptoms. He hopes his honesty will open a door for other men.
"I've fought my own demons; I've been through my own; I've fought my own brain," he said. "Maybe I can help somebody?"