Depression in men

Clinical depression was once considered a ” woman’s disease”. The labeling of depression as a female disease may prevent clinically depressed men from recognizing symptoms of depression and seeking treatment. Depression affects both males and female and both sexes experience similar symptoms of depression. However, men express those symptoms differently than women. Common symptoms of depression include loss of appetite, lack of sleep or too much sleep, sadness, feeling hopelessness and helplessness, worthlessness and loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.  But depression in men may cause them to feel irritable, aggressive or hostile, withdrawn,  cause headaches, digestive problems, problems with alcohol or drug use.

Why is depression in men not recognized?

There are many reasons why clinical depression in men is not recognized or diagnosed. For one, … the masculinity norms of men as strong human beings make it difficult for them to acknowledge their symptoms. Moreover, society considers emotional expression as a female trait. Consequently, this further complicates men’s willingness to seek help. Additionally, clinically depressed men may express their physical symptoms of depression rather than symptoms related to emotions.  For instance, a depressed man may complain of headaches or fatigue rather than a feeling of sadness or helplessness.

Men and depression

 

 Symptoms of depression in men

Below is a list of common symptoms of depression in men:

  • Irritability, aggressiveness
  • Restless, anxiety
  • Problem with sexual desire
  • Digestive problems or pain, headaches, cramps
  • Thoughts of suicide or attempt
  • Engaging in high-risque activities
  •  A need for alcohol or drug use
  • Loss of interest in work or family
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Hopelessness
  • Feeling sad
  • Physical aches or pain
  • Inability to meet responsibilities at work, caring for family
  • Trouble concentrating

Men and depression

 What happens when  depression in men is not treated

Depression in men can lead to a devastating consequence. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depressed women are more likely to attempt suicide, however, men succeed in committing suicide because they use lethal methods. Men can also experience complications from depression such as heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attack among others.

Get help when you need it

Men and depression

It can be difficult for men to seek help. But without help, depression is unlikely to go away; it may, in fact, get worse. Depression usually improves with medications and therapy. If you or someone close to you think that you are depressed, talk to your primary care provider or mental health professional. And remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Depression coping skills for  men
  • Acknowledge that you are depressed and seek professional help
  • Set a realistic goal and prioritize tasks
  • Seek out emotional support from partner or family or friends. Most let go of the masculinity norms and understand that you are a human being with emotions.
  • Learn to manage stress, meditation, breathing exercises, yoga are some of the good ones that do wonders to your body.
  • Engage in activities you once liked
  • Create a bedtime routine  and stick to a regular schedule
  • Learn how to communicate with your loved ones
  • Spend time with people, talk about your feelings with friends
  • Break up large tasks into small ones and tackle them one or two at a time
  • Avoid alcohol

 

How to support a man with depression
  • Offering support, encouragement, patience, understanding
  • Ensuring that he gets to his doctor’s appointments
  • Never ignoring comments of suicide
  • Reminding him that with time and treatment, depression will lift
  • Encouraging him to discuss any concern about medications to his healthcare provider
  • Helping him increase his physical and social activities
  • Listening carefully to him, let him know he’s loved
  • Find social support
  • Help him make face-time a priority
  • Help him find ways to support others
  • Spend time with him in sunlight
  • Lead by Example

Men and depression

 

If in crisis

  • Call your doctor
  • Call 911 for emergency services
  • Go to the nearest hospital emergency room
  • Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889).
  • Veterans can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 then press 1

 

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Author

Raina is a psychology student who understands the importance of caring for mental health. She blogs about depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, men and mental health and parenting kids with ADHD.

16 Comments

  1. What a great post! It is so true how men do not acknowledge that they can be depressed or that they need to be be seen by a doctor or specialist. They worry about showing weakness and find excuses for what might be wrong with them!

    • Denise, thank you for your kind words. The society puts too much pressure on men on how they are to behave in public.

  2. This is such a must needed article especially for our young black men, thank you for sharing!!!

    • Thanks! When tend to talk about depression as women disease and exclude men because we expect them to be unemotional, strong, etc…

  3. Really informative. Many men actually suffer from depression and should do something about it. Thanks for shedding light on that

    • I’m glad you found this post helpful. I think men do want to seek help but they don’t want to appear weak as we expect them to be strong and unemotional.

    • Jessie,

      Yes, it needs to be addressed often as men do suffer from depression. If you suspect your husband may be dealing with depression, even though this is a sensitive subject, I would suggest you tackle it early. The sooner the better. Good luck.

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