Depression is an emotional disturbance that affects the whole body and overall health. Poor mental health is listed among the leading causes of death in men.
Dr. Matt Wenner said there's a simple way to examine how you're feeling: “The five essentials are a good place to start; diet, sleep, exercise, mindfulness and sociability," he said.
Wenner said physical and mental health is integrated and if a person takes care of one, the other will follow: “If you’re lacking in any of those areas, at least it’s something you can put your energies towards, it’s something you can do," he said.
Depression proves the mind and body are connected. Chemicals in the brain and stress hormones become out of balance. Finding that balance in one's life and keeping a positive attitude, are just a few of the necessities of good mental health practices: “You have to make a mental shift to be physically healthy,” he said.
Wenner advises to take a closer look at what you eat: “If we’re sitting and we’re eating processed foods, sugar, fat, and we’re not eating enough plants, fruits and vegetables, you’re going to feel horrible," he said.
And, make sure to get plenty of sleep and exercise, he said.
“Our bodies were built to move ," he said. "We weren’t built to stare at computer screens all day.”
Also, he said, live in the moment.
“One way to be mindful is to simply go out and see what your community has to offer and the experiences you can have," Wenner said. "There’s adventures all around us every day.”
Taking time to connect with your kids, he suggests.
“Don’t just parent through fear, consequences, punishments and dangling rewards in front of them," Wenner said. "Use your relationship to connect. Talk with them, guide them. Every misbehavior is an opportunity to teach and connect with your kids.”
Find that balance between work and play is a key element too: “Without work you really can’t play and I think finding that balance is a task for all of us so that we can minimize everything life has to offer," Wenner said.
Focusing on positive thinking can also help, he said.
“I think a lot of people aren’t aware of this constant, negative dialogue going on in their heads," Wenner said. "They don’t know they’re doing this to themselves. They’re literally punishing themselves with a negative internal dialogue. If there was a person following you every day, whispering in your ear, you’re fat, you’re worthless, nothing you do is right, you wouldn’t even want them around. But yet, we do that to ourselves.”
Wenner said don't get in the habit of comparing yourself to others.
“If we want to continue to grow as an individual, I think this focus on what’s going on all around us with everybody else is ultimately a waste of time," he said. "We’re all stuck in our own skin, we might as well learn to be comfortable there.”
He also suggested to not let one's past interfere with the present.
“Your past is part of who you are and doesn’t define who you are," Wenner said. "Look back on those significant, emotional events in your life that shaped you and make sense of it through clear eyes. Look at it for what it is. Don’t turn it into something that it’s not.”
When a man's issues are interfering with his daily life, causing a great deal of stress and the support of his family and friends seems insufficient, then it’s time to seek professional help.
Research suggests men with depression are more likely to develop heart disease.