125: Anxiety & Depression in Boys

Photo by Brent Gambrell via Flickr


1 in 2 children will develop a mood or behavioral disorder or substance addiction by age 18. 

We parents like to think that if we “do everything right,” our kids will be mentally and physically healthy with nary a care in the world. But that’s not the case. The truth is that mental health challenges, including depression and anxiety, affect people of all ages from every segment of society — including Jen, who was diagnosed with double depression in her mid-30s.

Sadly, boys & men are far less likely to seek help for a mental health condition than girls and women. Fear of looking “weak” or “unmanly” causes many guys to bottle up their feelings, with potentially disastrous results. (In 2016, white males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in the United States.)

Anxiety and depression, the two most common mental health disorders, are highly treatable, but too many children and families suffer alone. Only about 40% of children and teens with anxiety or depression receive treatment.

Intervening when your son exhibits symptoms of anxiety or depression can change the trajectory of his life, for the better.

In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss:
  • How persistent stigma keeps families from acknowledging and seeking help for anxiety & depression (4:05)
  • Symptoms of anxiety and depression in boys & men (4:56; 10:59;16:49)
  • The link between anxiety & depression and risk-taking behavior, including drug use and promiscuous sex (7:40)
  • Breaking through denial (11:53)
  • How to help your child, even if no one else thinks there’s a problem (13:45) or you have a hard time accessing mental health services (14:01)
  • The difference between “worry” and “anxiety” (17:46)
  • The link between anxiety & depression (20:44)
  • How to find professional help, including online counseling (24:42)
  • How to identify a boy-friendly therapist or counselor (27:53)
  • The importance of self-care when dealing with a family member’s mental health issues (29:30)
Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 125:

The Good News About Bad Behavior: Why Kids Are Less Disciplined Than Ever and What to Do About It — book by Katherine Reynolds Lewis

Episode 123: The Good News About Bad Behavior with Katherine Reynolds Lewis

Episode 115: The Boy Crisis with Warren Farrell

Author Ann Douglas on How to Help Boys with Mental Health Challenges — BuildingBoys blog post

Parenting Through the Storm: Find Help, Hope, and Strength When Your Child Has Psychological Problems — book by Ann Douglas

Episode 114: Sleepover, Summer Camp & Separation Anxiety

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

K’Bro — emotional resiliency app/game that helps boys identify and manage emotions

ManTherapy — interactive website that just might appeal to older teen boys who are otherwise resistant to seeking help

TalkSpace — offers anonymous, online counseling with licensed therapists