How the Rock Beat Depression (and How You Can, Too)
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is considered one of the toughest men in Hollywood. He gained fame wrestling in the WWE and has spent the last decade of his career playing action heroes that are recognized for their strength and determination.
But in reality, Johnson has spent a lifetime battling depression. According to Johnson, at the height of his depression he “didn’t want to do a thing or go anywhere. I was crying constantly.”
Johnson spoke of his battle with depression to several news outlets and Tweeted about his struggle hoping to let others know they are not alone. “We all go thru sludge… the key is to not be afraid to open up,” said Johnson. He shared the story of his mother’s attempted suicide when he was 15 and claims his mother has no recollection of the event.
Johnson continued to struggle with depression in college and found it was especially difficult when his dreams of playing professional football ended and a serious relationship ended around the same time. He called it his “absolute worst time.”
But that’s not where Johnson’s story ended. He’s since built a successful career as an actor and a pro wrestler and now he has the platform to speak out on men’s depression. He thinks it’s important for men to speak up when they’re struggling emotionally, despite society historically giving them a different message.
Johnson believes, “there’s wiring in us and a constitution that often times doesn’t let us talk about when we’re scared or vulnerable or things like that. It’s kind of like what’s been deemed as ‘toxic masculinity’. But… you’ve got to talk about it and you’re not alone.”
Johnson’s encouragement to talk about depression is echoed by mental health professionals. For many, true healing doesn’t begin until they share how they’re feeling and let themselves be vulnerable, whether it’s with a spouse, friend, or therapist.
What is Depression For Men Like?
Many men ignore depression or don’t bother to seek treatment. In some cases, they are forced into treatment by their spouse or other loved ones because depression is harming their relationships, and affecting the quality of their life. Others never get the help they need and can face a tragic ending.
Symptoms of depression include feelings of irritability, sadness, numbness, and hopelessness. Men tend to isolate themselves and withdraw from activities they once enjoyed when depressed. Many hide in their work, drink too much, become violent, participate in risky behavior, or escape in other ways. Men with depression tend to turn to unhealthy coping strategies more than women because it can feel socially unacceptable to deal with the problem in a healthy way.
The symptoms of depression might overlap with other mental illnesses, which can make it a challenge to get a diagnosis. Speaking to a professional is an important part of treating depression to help you get and comprehensive accurate diagnosis.
It’s also important to seek help for depression because it can worsen and the results can be tragic. Women with depression tend to attempt suicide more than men, but men are more likely to complete the act. They choose more aggressive methods, tend to act impulsively, and show fewer warning signs that they are suicidal.
Getting Help for Depression
The best thing you can do if you are depressed is to reach out to someone. Even if you aren’t able to schedule an appointment with a professional, ask someone who knows or cares about you to help you to do so.
Depression is unlikely to go away without help and can affect every area of your life. You owe it to yourself to get the help you need.
Treatment for depression varies based on where you are in life and your personal approach to health. Pharmaceuticals can be used to manage depression, but they aren’t always necessary. Some of the other options you have for dealing with depression with the help of a professional include:
- Setting realistic goals that help you have a focus and reason for moving forward
- Getting emotional support from family and loved ones.
- Learning new coping strategies for managing stress, grief, and other difficult emotions
- Engaging in activities and finding hobbies you enjoy.
- Improving your overall physical health with exercise and a diet suitable for your body
These things alone might not be enough to “cure” you of depression, but they can be an important part of an overall treatment plan to help you live a quality life despite your depression. Mental health professionals believe that day-to-day behavioral changes are always an important part of overcoming depression, even when medication is also used as an assist.
According to General and Addiction Psychiatrist and Huffington Post contributor Matthew Goldenberg D.O., “Depression is associated with behavioral changes… [It] tends to lead to social isolation and a decreased interest in things like nutrition, exercise and enjoyable activities. Therefore, as difficult as it may be, I always encourage my patients to take an inventory of their current behaviors. These include attention to diet/nutrition, exercise/physical activity, recreational activities/hobbies, chores/bill paying and personal hygiene.”
“More often than not, when patients evaluate these areas, they find that they have significant deficits as compared to their pre-depression behavior/levels of activity. This is because depression can keep us from having the motivation to do the very things that make us feel better.”
You do not need to endure the paralysis of depression alone. Reach out for help and begin your journey back with small, easy steps then building to more significant actions – this is how you win your way back to a fulfilling life.