There are a few key topics that we tend to shy away from — things that we’re ashamed of… don’t want to admit to ourselves… and just don’t want to talk about.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t NEED to talk about our secrets.
These are the taboo subjects that can make us feel isolated, alone, and ashamed. But the fact is, TONS of us are dealing with the exact same issues. I’m talking about the real doozies here:
Depression. And how depression screws up your sex life.
Laziness — to the point of self sabotage.
In this issue of the “Just For Guys” Newsletter, our experts give us the real-world guidance and advice we need — but don’t want to ask for — about these secret afflictions that we don’t have to live with anymore.
Depression and Your Sex Drive
… By Dr. Steven Lamm, M.D.
Our modern world is one of anxiety, economic worries, poor diet and exercise regimens, and long hours at work. We also live in a highly medicated society.
There is now growing awareness of depression as a real health condition that — like such diseases as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease — is highly prevalent.
Since 1996, doctor visits for depression have increased by more than a third, and related drug prescriptions have risen 63 percent.
The Physical Downside to Depression
Depression affects about 6 million American men annually. While many people often link depression with psychological distress and pain, feeling “blue” and having constant thoughts of worthlessness , mental health experts are now noticing that some physical complaints are tip-offs to an underlying depression.
The exact causes of depression are unclear. Current psychiatric thinking is that certain biochemical imbalances in the brain ultimately lead to depression, possibly stemming from a defect in the communication between neurons (nerve cells) in the brain.
Chemical changes occur in the brain during depression, and researchers believe that these changes produce symptoms of depression.
Unfortunately, many people simply don’t know what depression is, or they think they can overcome it with sheer willpower. They cannot.
It’s now estimated that 15 percent of all chronic cases of depression end in suicide, with men taking their lives on average four times more often than women.
One recent study of more than 1,000 people who were eventually diagnosed with depression reported that physical symptoms were either the only complaint or a major complaint in almost 70 percent of the subjects.
Changes and significant fluctuations in erection hardness can be the first sign of an underlying physical or psychiatric condition. It can be a physical manifestation of depression.
The Advantages — and Downfalls — of Antidepressants
One major approach for treating depression is with antidepressant medications. There are several advantages to treating depression with medication:
- The drugs are effective against mild, moderate, and severe forms of major depression.
- Patients usually respond more quickly to drugs than psychotherapy (as much as two weeks sooner).
- They are easy to administer.
- The medications are not addictive, and, when properly administered, are rarely dangerous.
Many men of all ages now take Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and a variety of other antidepressants, as well as a slew of medications for treating everything from hypertension and obesity to diabetes and heart problems.
Most, if not all, of these drugs affect hardness. As many as 33 to 40 percent of patients who take them go on to develop some degree of sexual dysfunction.
The sexual side effects can become quite pronounced for some people.
It’s estimated that almost 90 percent of depressed patients who develop sexual problems consequently stop taking their antidepressants too soon, which can put them at risk for relapse of depression.
How Depression Affects Your Sex Life
Depression can affect your sex life in three critical ways:
- For some men, depression can cause hardness problems or significant loss of interest in sex.
- For others, however, hardness problems themselves — whether caused by high blood pressure, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, or specific medications to treat these ailments — can actually cause mild depression.
- When popular antidepressant medications are added to the mix, as good as they are, they can often negatively affect hardness and overall sexual function.
Those medications that affect the vascular system — including blood pressure, the heart, and the respiratory organs — will have an impact on any blood-delivering system in the body:
- Some medications hamper the blood vessels in the penis by constricting them, thereby making it virtually impossible to achieve an erection.
- Others affect the nerves that activate penile responsiveness.
- Then there are the medications that strike the areas of the brain where desire and sexual pleasure are centered, resulted in a severe decrease in sex drive.
If you suddenly notice that you are having erection problems where none existed before, take a good look at any — and all — medications that you are currently using.
And bring it up with your doctor.
When the lines of communication between you and your doctor are kept open, it is usually possible to change or adjust medication.
The goal is to maintain your general health while not adversely affecting your hardness and sexual performance.
Every year, more than 18 million Americans suffer from clinical depression. Clinical depression often goes untreated because people fail to recognize its many symptoms.
Clinical Depression has many symptons that can affect day to day life:
- Do you feel a persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood?
- Are you sleeping too little or sleeping too much?
- Do you have a reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain?
- Are you experiencing a decrease in sex drive (libido)?
- Have you noticed a loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed?
- Are you restless or irritable?
- Do you suffer from persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, chronic pain, or constipation and other digestive disorders?
- Have you noticed difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions?
- Are you feeling constant fatigue or loss of energy?
- Is there a sense of feeling guilty, hopeless, or worthless?
- Are you having thoughts of death or suicide?
NOTE: If you experience five or more of these symptoms for longer than two weeks, of if the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your daily routines, see your doctor or a qualified mental health professional. The good news is that almost everyone who is treated can soon feel better.
“Just For Guys” Fun Fact…
Some studies show a link between feeling “blue” and consuming carbohydrate-rich foods.
How to Get Out Of Your “Secret Rut” of Self-sabotage
… By Mike Wonnacott
You’re a hard worker. You put in long days at the office, do a great job, go to the gym when you get the chance, and love to play sports. At least in theory.
But you have a secret…
And the secret is this: Some days — too many days — when you should be out for a run, or doing a few reps at your local gym… you’re on the couch. Remote in one hand. Beer in the other. Bag of Cheetos on your lap, spilling out onto your increasingly flabby stomach.
And the more you think about all the things you should be doing, the more you sigh, change the channel, and have another sip of that cold one.
When “Lazy Sunday Syndrome” Gets Out of Hand …
Now, we all have lazy Sundays on occasion — after all, that’s what Sundays are for, right?
The problem occurs when these Sundays start to pile up… and begin to include Saturdays… and weeknights, too.
You begin to feel depressed, angry at yourself, and more and more unmotivated to DO anything about it.
Your friends and coworkers know you as an energetic, fun-loving person… but what they don’t know is this sloth you turn into when you get home and get on the couch, and stay there so long that your butt print is permanently imbedded in the cushion.
The fact is, we all get a little lazy at times. Maybe you’ve been having trouble at work or in your relationship, and it’s just zapped the energy out of you.
But here’s the thing: Laziness is really a form of self-sabotage.
And self-sabotage just ain’t healthy.
When we allow ourselves to get beyond the point of a typical lazy Sunday, there are a few things we need to do before we can truly “snap out of it.” And all the while, your inner saboteur will be very convincingly telling you, “Aww, c’mon. Just one more cold one. Just one more hour of television.”
Here’s How to Kick Your “Inner Saboteur” to the Curb!
Here’s a list of methods to help you turf your inner saboteur once and for all:
Do It For Yourself
You’re really not doing yourself any favors on that couch — and you know it. The fact of the matter is, you’ll feel a hundred times better about yourself if you can get up, get moving, and do something you love.
Give Yourself a Break
Don’t beat yourself up for falling off the fitness wagon and becoming a temporary sloth. Even if it’s been months. Or years.
Having a positive attitude will go a long way toward helping you create and maintain the energy you need to make some positive changes in your life.
Laugh at Failure
So you can’t always be perfect.
So you finally went for a workout… then came home and ate an entire box of doughnuts… and three weeks later you haven’t been back to the gym.
Okay! Have a laugh and get your butt back to the gym!
You haven’t failed. You’ve just had a setback.
You want to have a long, happy, healthy, active life, right? What you do today will affect your health and fitness level tomorrow. Get in the habit of thinking about your workouts as a lifestyle, rather than a daily chore. An active lifestyle now means a healthy life in the future.
Now that you have some strategies to help keep your inner saboteur at bay, let’s look at some key strategies to help keep you motivated and moving.
The following motivational strategies will help make sure you can get off that couch — and stay off it long enough to change your habits, your lifestyle, and your health.
- Set Goals! You’ve heard it before and I’m going to say it again: One of the biggest motivators is to have realistic, achievable goals that you can work toward. Monitor your progress and get excited as each pound comes off, each mile becomes a minute shorter, and each workout takes you to that next level.
- Enjoy Your Workouts. Find ways to enjoy your workout, whether it’s at home, at the gym, or elsewhere. Listen to music that gets you pumped; do exercises that you enjoy doing; even have a look in the mirror now and then (most gyms are covered with them!) to check out the benefits of your hard work. These are good motivators!
- Play Sports You Love. If you’re lucky enough to be the type of guy who loves playing sports, fantastic. You can get a great workout with plenty of sports, like basketball, ice hockey, and mountain biking. Football and baseball are okay, too, but watch that you don’t spend too much time standing around.
- Be Passionate About Your Achievements. Time your bike commute to work and try to shave off 3 minutes per month; track your body fat percentage until you reach your predetermined goal; kick some serious butt in your next game of ultimate frisbee. And LOVE it!
- Buddy Up. Going to the gym or for a run with a buddy can be a great way to enjoy your workout.Having a casual conversation while you sweat can be as enjoyable and relaxing as having a beer after work — and it’s a heck of a lot better for you!
- Get Competitive. Whether it’s your regular gym buddy, or just the guy who happens to be on the treadmill next to you, make it a race! Getting your competitive juices flowing will make any workout or sports event that much more fun and effective.
- Reward Yourself! When you’ve hit your goals, or even just some milestones along the way (go to the gym three times a week for one month; lose 10 pounds; get body fat percentage down to 12 percent), reward yourself with something you love. (Like a new golf club — NOT beer and Cheetos on the couch!)
Have fun with your workouts, the sports you play, your morning jog. Remember your motivators, and give yourself a break if you fall off the wagon from time to time.
It’s important to remember what it’s all about. Staying healthy will improve your health, of course, but also (and more importantly) your attitude and your ability to enjoy life.
See You Next Time!
Phew! Those are some tough subjects!
But if you’re dealing with any of these problems in your own life, then you know how important it is to find a way to talk about them. And find ways to SOLVE them.
Thanks to our contributors for facing the tough ones in this issue of the “Just For Guys” Newsletter.
To better living,Craig JacksonEditor, JUSTFORGUYS.COM