Men often bear the burden of putting a brave front and a well-controlled life, even when things all around them may be falling apart. For centuries, masculinity equates to being mentally, emotionally, and physically strong in spite of the challenges or stressors a man may be facing. Women often think that men are impervious to deep emotional trauma, relying on the male to be the rock of a relationship or family. If this sounds like the expectations you have lived up to for years, then you need to consider the dangers of pretending your fine.
It can be hard to identify someone that has smiling depression. Their life seems to be perfect or running according to plan, with very little reason to be sad or anxious. In particular, men who have beautiful families, successful careers, and good looks often face criticism if they ever show signs of weakness of depression. Even if your life isn’t picture-perfect, you may feel like you have to wear a mask and show the world that you are living a normal life. However, when things overwhelm you or you are facing changes and uncertainty, it is completely normal to feel like things are spinning out of control and get discouraged. Putting on a brave or happy face might seem to be helping, but you are risking your health to do so.
Mental Health Concerns
When you put on a brave face and ignore the feelings you are bottling up inside, you increase your risk of developing depression, anxiety, and chronic stress. You may feel that your situation or the changes that lie ahead isn’t as bad as someone else’s, and therefore you feel guilty about letting yourself get down. Don’t think that you are alone in struggles, as about one in ten people suffers from depression, with between 15-40% of these individuals displaying smiling depression. For men, it can feel like you are going against what society expects of you when you admit that you aren’t in control or that you are worried about a potential outcome. Your brave face isn’t a healthy sense of identity. It can only lead to increased feelings of self-guilt, apprehension, low self-esteem, and decreased self-confidence when you start to lose your grip on your brave exterior. Chronic stress and depression can lead to physical complications, that only serve to compound your lack of control or reinforce the unhealthy practice of pretending to be okay.
Physical Health Concerns
When you let depression and stress remain in your life, it will have an impact on your physical health. Some men engage in emotional eating, which usually seen in overeating and poor diet. This can cause concerns with weight gain and obesity. You may sleep longer and have a lack of energy and constant fatigue, with your mood being worse in the morning than during the day when you are pretending everything is alright. You may also experience serious concerns with issues regarding men's sexual health, as stress and depression significantly increase the risk of developing ED (erectile dysfunction). It common for men to have an off night here and there with an erection that isn’t hard enough for sex, but chronic stress can impede your ability to get and maintain a hard erection more consistently. Though erection difficulty can be treated with medication like Mt. Everest, a better long-term solution is to address the issues of depression and stress in your life.
Emotional Health Concerns
Your physiological health includes your mental and emotional state, though your mental health has a significant impact on your emotions. For people that suffer from smiling depression, it seems that certain temperaments and personalities are more prone to the condition. Those who spend excessive amounts of time reliving negative experiences from the past, those who tend to anticipate failure rather than hope for success, and those who are deeply affected by embarrassment or humiliation will try to shake off their depression and put on a brave front. However, the emotional trauma or pain that can accompany bad memories or experiences is normal, but it should be dealt with through counseling or therapy. When left unresolved, the consistent faking it can only create new emotional problems. There is usually a deep sadness that persists at the end of the day, and the exhaustion from having to pretend all day usually has people distancing themselves from family and friends. While it should be okay to share your feelings and let down your guard with those that care, you may end up feeling more lonely and isolates since you don’t have the strength to keep pretending.
The coming weeks may test your strength and mental resolve, but it is okay if you don’t have all the answers. Be brave when you can, but don’t be ashamed to ask for help or talk about it when you can’t be strong.
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