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Don't Settle for Feeling 'Flat'

By Mike Jacquart

One of the reasons why people, men especially, are reluctant to seek help for a mental health concern is due to a lack of understanding. "How do you feel?" "Are you depressed?" This can be confusing for many men, who often aren't that in touch with their emotions.

Besides, just what is "feeling depressed" anyway? On many more occasions in my life, depression reared its ugly head in ways that had little, if anything, to do with sorrow or unhappiness.

This may be referred to as "flat" feelings, in other words, I was not really feeling anything! I just felt numb inside. I lacked energy, direction, and motivation. Let me provide an example.

In a previous job, I would often see coworkers laughing or joking while I didn't even crack a smile. Was this just "me"? Maybe, especially since we men are often raised to not show our emotions. Perhaps I just didn't find the joke funny. That happens. But in my case, I not only didn't laugh, I was reluctant to even smile. I simply did not want to be around other people stopping by our cubicle, especially since it occurred A LOT.

Why is this important? As I explained in my book, Climbing out of Darkness: A Personal Journey into Mental Wellness (with Marina London LCSW), mental health has a tremendous impact on everyday life, and that includes work. As Marina explains, "When you are depressed, everything is an effort." (italics mine) "That includes socializing."

Socializing was a BIG part of the work culture at this particular employer, so not being very sociable was a strike against me in terms of fitting in. So, you see, "depression" and "mental health" can have A LOT to do with day-to-day functioning. Since a condition like undiagnosed depression can affect work, a vital part of many men's lives, therapists are increasingly understanding that new, innovative methods that better tie in areas like work and life habits are needed to reach men.

One such approach involves connecting the dots: physical symptoms (changes in energy, sleep patterns, motivation, appetite) with emotional issues. (Notice: I mentioned energy and motivation earlier.)

At the time, I had not been diagnosed, I just knew that I struggled to fit in. In addition, my energy level was often so low that I could barely make it through the day without additional caffeine in the afternoon. In fact, my lack of energy and motivation were actually bigger problems on the job than not talking or joking very much. And in other cases, an individual might find these areas more troubling at home than at work, but they still greatly affect everyday life! Remember, a person can be suffering from depression without looking depressed.

Can you see how being asked questions like, "How motivated are you at work?" or, "Would you describe yourself as high or low energy and why?" could be more effective than being asked, "Are you depressed?"

Marina points out that the Beck Depression inventory is a self-scoring tool that will let people know in a matter of 10 minutes whether they are suffering from depression, as opposed to feeling the occasional blues we all experience. Check out:

What about you? What methods have boosted your energy level or motivation at work or home? What is keeping you from enjoying life more? Don't wait YEARS to learn why you're unhappy like I did!

Climbing Out of Darkness: A Personal Journey into Mental Wellness (with Marina London LCSW) can be found at

If you would like a personalized, signed copy, email me at

Check out this podcast, in which I described my book and mental health concerns with Fresh Hope founder Brad Hoefs.

Watch for additional blog posts and podcasts about mental health for men by Fresh Hope for Mental Health as well as an upcoming "Headspace for the Workplace" podcast next month with Sally Spencer-Thomas.

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