Personality Traits Of Male Executives Prevent Many Cope With Depression

"It's not something you can persevere without help."

12/08/2016 1:13 PM AEST | Updated 12/08/2016 5:22 PM AEST
Dr Teoh said personality traits helping executives climb the professional ladder increase denial of depression.

The personality traits enabling male executives to reach high-powered positions are preventing many from dealing with depression, according to an Australian specialist.

The median age of suicide in men is 44.5 years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, with stress and unhelpful perceptions of masculinity increasing the risk of men getting depression.

Many men turn to alcohol or drugs to mask depressive thoughts, according to research from the Black Dog Institute, which only delays the inevitable.

Dr Ben Teoh is the Clinical Director at South Pacific Private, a 53-bed depression and addiction rehabilitation clinic in Sydney's Northern Beaches.

One third of those beds are usually filled with male executives suffering from depression or an addiction, Dr Teoh told The Huffington Post Australia, which they've often been dealing with silently for far too long.

"They tend to delay it, or not talk about it at all until they become so severely depressed that they're suicidal," Dr Teoh told HuffPost Australia.

Depression can happen to anyone, whether you're a tough man, or woman -- it's not selective.

Regardless the majority have been forced to seek help by their families, or are at the point where they can no longer function at work.

Most patients usually open up about their addiction or mental health issues within the first couple of days, but for male executives it takes longer. It's more commonly four or five days.

"When they do that, they do get better. Coming into hospital is just the start of the treatment," Dr Teoh said.

The Clinical Director said personality traits were the biggest barrier for many male executives who habitually persevered to succeed in their professional life. This increases the potential risk of denying depression, Dr Teoh said, as they try to "push through" mental health problems as well.

"But it's not something you can persevere without help," Dr Teoh said.

"These personalities tend to be people who have the capacity to be driven, they have the personality where they need to achieve, they need to be emotionally tough, and very focussed.

"So they have the kind of personality that makes it very hard for them to accept if they start having emotional problems; either depression, anger, irritability, or even marital problems.

"They would see that as a form of weakness in their character."

Education is the most important starting point, said Dr Teoh, and expanding the discussion around mental health to inform all areas of society that it doesn't discriminate is key.

"Depression can happen to anyone, whether you're a tough man, or woman -- it's not selective. It can effect anyone, whether you're at a high executive level or unemployed. We know that clinical depression can effect anyone," Dr Teoh said.

"I think that's the first message to executive men."

If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact BeyondBlue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

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