USF Psychiatry Chair in Natl Documentary on Men & Depression

When producers of the national documentary “Men Get Depression” went in search of experts to interview, USF’s Chair of Psychiatry, Dr. Francisco Fernandez, emerged as one of only 4 psychiatry experts selected. The documentary will be broadcast throughout the month of May during a national awareness campaign.

“I am humbled to be part of a national group of experts who have been pioneers in the field of depression in men,” said Fernandez.

Video clip of Dr. Fernandez segment.


“While I have been involved in many special activities and publications, and all have been a major part of my professional career, the honor of being selected for this national campaign to form the basis for depression awareness and treatment in Latinos is key in my career,” said Fernandez, whose segments reveal societal barriers to diagnosis and treatment for depression, among Hispanics.

Depression among Hispanics…
“Sadly, in Latinos, depression is seen as a weakness. This leads to suffering needlessly in silence which translates into less men getting treated. There is also silence because of the link to manhood – the myth in the community is that Latino men do not get depressed,” said Fernandez. “Traditional gender roles further contribute to an inability to talk about their problems. Getting angry and over drinking are sanctioned as part of manhood. Depression, taking medications and engaging in psychotherapy are not. Even available medial therapies are less acceptable to Latino men especially since many antidepressants can cause sexual dysfunction.”

Francisco Fernandez, MD, Chair of Psychiatry, USF College of Medicine and Director of the USF Institute for Research in Psychiatry.

Depression across all ethnicities…
“I wish I could say things have changed for men in our society. The fact is that back in the early 1900’s, life expectancy for men and women were about the same. Over the years, this has changed and life expectancy for men is now more than 10% lower than that of women. We lead the list of among the top ten leading causes of death – cancer, stroke, heart disease and suicide. By far the leading cause for suicide is untreated depression or ‘treatment refractory depression’,” noted Fernandez. The latter, treatment refractory depression, is triggered by medical treatments to combat certain illnesses. For example, open-heart surgery is often followed by depression.

“Depression is the second leading cause of disability worldwide and we repeatedly miss the diagnosis or fail to treat appropriately the majority of times. We are getting better, we are improving communication and we are fostering better health care education and services that encourage men of all ages to come to treatment, but there is clearly room for improvement,” said Fernandez.

State of the Art, Inc.
The documentary Fernandez will appear in, Men Get Depression, will be distributed nationwide by American Public Broadcasting and was produced by State of the Art, Inc. Other experts interviewed for the documentary include: Dr. John Greden, University of Michigan’s Depression Center; Dr. Michael Addis, Professor of Psychology at Clark College; and Author John Head, an expert on the relationship of racism and depression.

In the Tampa Bay area, the documentary “Men Get Depression” will be broadcast three times in May.
WUSF – tv: Tuesday, May 6, at 1pm and Wednesday, May 7 at 4:30am.
WEDU – tv: Thursday, May 29, at 11pm.

Gender differences when it comes to depression….
“Both men and women suffer from depression. Women are more willing to share their feelings and reach out for help than men,” notes Fernandez. “Unfortunately this translates into men turning more to substance use for relief. We need much more research to understand all aspects of mood disorders in men, including how to make men more comfortable acknowledging our feelings and getting help when we need it.”

Helping your loved ones face depression. The Do’s and Don’ts…
If you suspect a loved one is battling depression, experts recommend you take steps to help that individual accept the idea of receiving help, medical treatment, and accepting a diagnosis of depression, if given. “This is critically important as the most important thing anyone can do for a man who may have depression is to help him get to a doctor for a diagnostic evalutaion and treatment, even if you have to make the first appointment for them and accompany them to subsequent follow up visits,” said Fernandez. “One thing to avoid is the stance that depressed men can just ‘snap out of it’. Climbing out of depression is not possible without professional help. Likewise, when the person is unable to change, do not tell them they are lazy or that they are faking the degree of suffering they claim to experience. It’s important to gently reassure him that, with time and help, he will feel better and that is why it’s important to get help pronto!”

Información y video en Español…
El Dr. Fernández fue seleccionado para el documentario nacional “Men Get Depression” – Los Hombres Padecen de la Depresión. El documentario fue producido para la cadena nacional American Public Broadcasting y sera televisado en ciudades a traves de la nacion durante el mes de Mayo como parte de una campaña nacional para educar al publico sobre la depresión.

“La depresión es la complicación psiquiatrica más frecuente en hombres Latino. Estos trastornos del estado de ánimo pueden ser primarios, secundarios a complicaciones de enfermedades médicas y sus tratamientos. El riesgo suicida es elevado a lo largo del curso de una depresión en hombres. Es importante reconocer que se dispone de múltiples estrategias terapéuticas efectivas para el manejo de la depresión y deben recibir el mismo abordaje agresivo que cualquier otra enfermedad sistémica,” dice el Dr. Fernández, quien, ademas de Catedra, es el Jefe del Instituto de Investigaciones Psiquiatrica- USF Institute for Research in Psychiatry.

Video en Español

Para más información sobre La Depresión y los Hombres

Other links:

Men Get Depression National Outreach Campaign
To obtain your dvd copy of documentary.
USF Psychiatry Lecture Series on Depression. Free & Open to the public.

Story by Lissette Campos, USF Health Communications