A rather significant portion of men over 40 is on some form of anti-depressant medication…so let’s discuss in this article what you can do as an over 40 male to avoid this trap which is destroying many lives out there.
Pressure from family, work and life is ever rising in the race to make more and more money. Time is at a premium and the first thing sacrificed is nearly always looking after our bodies. Then add unhealthy eating and the use of alcohol/smoking to the mix and this becomes the perfect recipe for impending disaster waiting to go off like a time-bomb. The first signals we get about impending doom is when depression strikes. This is screaming at you that something is seriously wrong. But what do we do? We grab at pills just to medicate the symptom ignoring the fact that this was a signal screaming at full pitch at us. But our hectic 21 century lives have made us deaf to this voice of our body…we just throw down more and more pills to numb us more and more until the time-bomb eventually explodes and destroys everything in its path creating pain and suffering for all we loved and cared about. Sounds melodramatic? Maybe, but the sad part is that this is very true!
I’ve come very close to this point in my life. I’ve learned how to avoid it and thought I would share with you my approach on how to handle depression when you are an older guy.
They key to good mental health for the over 40 guy, starts with a fit body. This is the biggest single contributor to good mental health. We were not created to be sedentary beings and inactivity brings about a lack of all the hormones we require for a healthy mind. These feel-good and uplifting hormones are only released through physical activity and some only through intense physical activity. This can make us feel on top of this world! Without these hormones depression is a given. But the problem is that, when we are in that dark place of depression, the hardest thing is to gather the motivation to get ourselves to the gym. So, what do I do? This is something I have addressed in various of my videos. For me getting to gym and working out is elevated to the same priority as getting to work in the morning. If I do not have a sick certificate I get to work and I GET TO GYM. You do not have an option to not go to work if you’re depressed or not feeling like it! The exact (!) same apply to my gym. It is not a matter off whether I feel like it or whether I am down or not in the mood or not motivated! I just get in the car, drive to gym, put on my workout clothes and my headphones, select my Spotify playlist “GERTFITNESS WORKOUT #1” and start doing my first set. And then the next set and the next. And man, many times I have found that, that was one of my best workouts. And I ALWAYS walk out there positive and feeling great because I have done what I need to do to get my brain filled with the much needed hormones to lift my mood and give me a positive frame of mind. Off course I could have stayed at home feeling sorry for myself because of my depressive state but now I feel positive and uplifted. Nothing comes close to lifting your frame of mind to a positive state like a good intense workout. The key to it all is to elevate your training’s priority setting to the same as that of your job’s priority. It is NOT an option to bail out unless you have a sick certificate.
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Note here: Inspiring tunes can make an incredible difference to help you endure an intense workout when you struggling with a depressive frame of mind. Do not underestimate the power of music. I have created my Spotify playlist specifically for this purpose. (You can find it on Spotify by just searching “GertFITNESS WORKOUT #1”. I have made it a collaborative playlist so if there is a rocking tune you think should belong in this playlist please feel free to add it!)
Now just to remind you, I have reason more than most to be depressed. Nearly died at 40 and given a bad prognosis for my future health. Then at 46 I nearly lost my business. And at 53 an even closer call with death with near complete liver failure as result of drinking dirty water, keeping me for long in hospital and out of gym for a full 12 months seeing all my hard work on my body of the past 13 years going to waste and pretty much had to start over at age 54. This is much reason to be depressed…believe me. But having a system in place where the priority I allocate to gym is non-negotiable and not depending on mood or frame of mind or whether I feel like it, means I get to gym for a great workout and every-time the resultant feel-good hormonal release prevents me from slipping into a depressive state. If it was not for this non-negotiable gym rule I would have been in a serious depressive state.
You don’t “need” motivation. You simply need to put in place this non-negotiable workout rule and elevate working out to the same priority level as rocking up for your job. EXACTLY THE SAME. You only miss your workout if you miss your job that day!
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Then off course there are other smaller things I put in place to keep the darkness of depression from engulfing me.
Let me give you a quick rundown:
- The first thing any guy suffering from depression should do is to get his blood testosterone levels checked by a Urologist. You must ensure that your levels are healthy. If not you MUST go on TRT therapy. Low test levels in males WILL result in severe depressive states and many other health risks. TRT therapy plays a definite role in a positive mindset in a man.
- Alcohol is glue for depression! Thinking you need an unwinding glass of wine after a hectic day is only a good idea if you are faaaaar from a depressive state. Otherwise it will have the opposite effect and pull you much quicker into depression. Plus, that glass of alcohol will most certainly mean you will miss your workout session as well. Plus, the alcohol is not doing you any good with your body fat levels meaning more negative thought patterns because you are missing your goal with loosing body fat. Thus if red lights are flickering because of a lingering depression, steer CLEAR from alcohol. Any overuse of any stimulant (including caffeine), should be avoided because that will result in a “valley” mood (after the peak) which will elevate a depressive state.
- You cannot expect your brain chemicals to be healthy when feeding your body junk! Your 2nd line of action after getting yourself regularly to gym is sorting out your diet. Lots of fresh veggies, fresh fruit, moderate carbs and fat free protein with some good oils (virgin olive, coconut, peanut butter, etc…) and no carbonated drinks! A good sample diet to start is here: https://gertlouw.com/2017/09/08/free-cutting-building-diets-for-a-ripped-muscled-physique/
- Serious emotional issues are your worst enemy in your fight against depression. I know life is not easy. Divorce, death of a loved one, serious sickness, retrenchment, financial trouble, all is very real and all can destroys lives. But all of this can also bring out the best in you. It can let you rise up and become a hero and role model that many people can look up to and not just transform your life but even those around you. Or it can mean you become just another statistic of a person absorbed by severe depression. It is all in how you decide to handle what you are facing. This is your time now, to rise up and become that person you have dreamed off, to be the best version of you ever, to be the hero and role model everyone is looking at for inspiration. No, it is not easy. Nothing worth in life is EVER easy…but it is always a 1000 times over worth it.
- Off course I use some basic supplements for a healthy and positive mind. They are:
Vitamin B12 injection once a month for optimal nerve system functioning (read this link on a vitamin B12 study regarding its use as an anti-depressant): American Journal of Psychiatry)
5-HTP – natural option for upping serotonin levels.
Vitamin D –a deficiency in vitamin D will feel very much like depression.
Last but not least…and I know many will shrug this off. But, I find my greatest comfort in my faith following Jesus Christ. If there ever was someone that walked this earth that was the epitome for living the great adventure of life positively, being kind and caring and depression free, then it was the example Jesus Christ showed us. So, you might think this is opium for the masses stuff…but boy what opium it is! This alone has the ability to transform many aspects of your life and keep you depression free with a lust for life. Ask me…I know!
So guys, whatever you are facing, there are always choices we can make on how we going to deal with this. In each of us there is greatness, that is the way God created us. This is your time to look into yourself and unlock that greatness. Depression is just an alarm bell…listen to the alarm clock and change what needs to be changed.
May your journey be blessed.