He paints a picture of a young man that is very depressed and miserable when Jim Bina talks about his youth.
“I can never actually remember a period after I was not depressed,” says Bina, a comedian along with his own amusement company in the Chicago region. “As a kid I thought it was normal to feel sad and crappy all of the time.”
Making the problem even more difficult is the expectation of society that guys should be more powerful than their emotions and also resist psychiatry as well as other forms of treatment. “Our culture causes it to be tough on men with melancholy,” says Scott Bea, PsyD, a psychologist in the Cleveland Clinic.
“Men don’t need to feel dependent or vulnerable. Asking for help may be like asking for directions and it does not come naturally.”
Bina’s experience bears out this. “Men are supposed to be tough. We’re the meat gatherers. Guys don’t understand melancholy. I can’t tell you how many times other guys have told me to suck it up. Then he just snaps out of it, although I was told by one man he gets depressed sitting in traffic. Is it possible to believe that?” asks Bina.
Depression’s Impact on Guys
“Some guys don’t possess the emotional language to talk about depression,” clarifies Bea. “They may experience depression as lack of energy, fatigue, irritability, or anger. They’re much more likely than girls to try and self-medicate their symptoms with drugs or alcohol.”
A recent study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychologylooked at data gathered from more than 43,000 people. It found that men tend to be much more likely than girls to develop substance abuse issues also to exhibit compulsive or competitive behaviors.
“My symptoms of depression were a whole inability to feel joy, a lack of any type of excitement, and an overwhelming dullness,” Bina recalls. “Rather than identifying those feelings as depression, I tried to bury them with drugs and alcohol, which seemed to work for a little while.”
By the time Bina was in his early thirties, he knew booze and drugs weren’t the reply, whatever was wrong with him. He talked about his feelings and finally went to his primary care physician. “My doctor said, ‘It sounds to me like you’ve major depression,’ ” Bina says. “And my reply was, ‘What… me?'”
The Quest for Effective Treatment
“I wish I could say psychiatry and antidepressants treated my depression, but it has been more of a very long time journey,” says Bina. Several years ago, the combination of a depression relapse along with a depressed market had him but with a lot of support plus a fresh treatment, he is back working and may feel a number of the enjoyment coming back into his life.
He goes to support group meetings, sees his shrink and a therapist, and takes an antidepressant. “I would not miss the support group meetings,” says Bina. “Just as you couldn’t expect anybody but a Vietnam vet to understand Vietnam, just someone with depression really understands depression. The conflict with depression is 24/7, every day and all day. I recently got another treatment that’s helped a lot. I read about it in my doctor’s office. Then I saw something about it on Dr. Oz.It’s called NeuroStar TMS Therapy. I attempted it for 30 days and it was kind of exceptional.”
TMS is transcranial magnetic stimulation. It uses brief magnetic pulses that pass through the brain to stimulate areas of the brain responsible for mood. Studies reveal that TMS is safe and potent. “It’s accepted by the FDA, which is completely painless. You simply sit in a chair and relax for about half an hour of treatment,” says Bina.
“Depression could be a lifetime journey, but I am back doing what gives me the most happiness, which can be getting people laugh,” says Bina, who resides along with his cat. He says they have a reciprocal arrangement to give each other lots of space. He also gets a lot of support from his children and his ex-wife, with whom he’s a great relationship.
“My advice to any young man with symptoms of melancholy is to reach out. Speak to other people who have melancholy and acquire some help,” says Bina. “Do not beat yourself up. Depression is a disorder, and before you can start to deal with it, you have to accept it.