General Health

Time to Talk: Male Depression

Male depression is an extremely important topic that’s often considered as a taboo in society.

Sometimes men can find it difficult to open up about their emotions in fear that they’ll be viewed as weak or unmanly.

Yet, this isn’t the case, and thankfully, the topic is becoming much more open in the modern world.

What Are The Signs Of Depression In Men?

Depression is a serious health concern that affects your mental health and can lead to a wide range of adverse effects, changes in your personal life, and even the development of additional physical health concerns if it is not thoroughly treated. 

Approximately 14.8 million adults in America suffer from a major depressive disorder, which accounts for around 6.7% of the national adult population. Furthermore, their statistics report that women are more likely to develop depression and that this mental illness in America’s most disrupting cause of disability. 

While depression may seem like it only causes some episodes of feeling down and hopeless at times, if it is not treated properly, it can turn into a significant problem eventually and even lead to suicide. There are more than 30,000 suicides reported in the United States every year that are due to depression.

Depression also rates top for the cause of suicide among young people – it is reported that, among people aged between 15 and 24, suicide is the leading cause of death.

Men And Depression

Anyone can suffer from depression. This includes men. Unfortunately, there is a common concern that men do not take their mental health as seriously as women. Even though many publications tend to focus on depression in women, there are a lot of men who experience the condition too. 

The American Psychological Association reports that an estimated 9% of men in the United States suffer from chronic depression1. These men suffer from depressive thoughts every day. About 33% of these men take medications to help them out. 

It is also important to note that men have a higher risk of suicide than women when it comes to depression. Statistics show that men are four times more likely to commit suicide. This data was compared to suicide statistics among female patients. 

There are many reasons why men develop depression. It is essential for men to realize what factors in their life puts them at risk. For example, men with high-stress levels are more likely to develop depression. If you have a lot of stress, addressing this risk factor could reduce your chance of experiencing depression. 

Symptoms In Men And Women

The act of feeling down from time to time is a common thing in life, but if negative emotions like despair and hopelessness take hold, then that is a clear sign that you are suffering from depression. This mental health problem makes it hard for you to function normally and enjoy life like the one you did before.

However, determining the causes of your depression and identifying the symptoms can help you in overcoming the problem. The following are some of the common symptoms of depression

There are a few differences in how depression affects men and women. Women are susceptible to postpartum depression, for example. At the same time, however, reports about male postpartum depression have been noted. The causes and symptoms can differ. 

Lack of interest in your daily activities

One of the most common symptoms is the lack of interest in your former hobbies, social events as you can enjoy them. 

A feeling of hopelessness and helplessness

This is one of the main symptoms as it leaves you in a bleak outlook as if nothing will ever get better, or nothing can be done to improve the situation. 

Weight and appetite changes

Most people think that depression can only cause loss of weight and appetite, but the truth is that it may even result in weight gain and an abnormal increase in appetite in some people. 

Irritability or anger

Low tolerance level, short temper, as well as feeling agitated, violent, or even restless, can be a significant symptom that you are depressed. 

Sleep Changes

Oversleeping or insomnia, such as waking up in the early hours of the morning can also be a sign that you are suffering from depression.

Low energy

If your body always feels heavy, fatigued, physically drained, sluggish, and being exhausted by small tasks, it is a clear sign that you have high-stress levels. 

Reckless behavior 

Engaging in irresponsible behavior like substance abuse, reckless driving, or compulsive gambling is also a universal depression sign.

Feeling of worthiness

Self-loathing or having a sense of guilt and you criticize yourself for perceived mistakes could be a symptom that you have a mental health issue. 

Unexplained pains and aches

Frequent complaints of headaches, back pain, stomach, and aching muscles can be another symptom. 

Lack of concentration

Finally, having a problem focusing, remembering, or making decisions is also a frequent sign that you are suffering from depression.

Behavioral Signs In Men

It is important to recognize the signs of depression in men. Several signs may occur when a man develops depression. Recognizing these can help to provide early treatment. In turn, the man may not experience some of the more serious complications associated with this mental disorder. 

Several behavioral signs can develop in men. These are often some of the first signs that can be noted. 

It is known that men tend to become more aggressive than women when they are depressed. This can also lead to problems with anger. The man may become angry faster than usual. They may also be more aggressive than usual. 

It has been found that men are more likely to start abusing substances when they feel depressed. The statistics were compared to data regarding women. This means a depressed man may have behavioral symptoms that signal substance abuse. Such substances may include alcohol and drugs. Sometimes, prescription and over-the-counter drugs are abused too. 

Other behavioral signs that should be recognized in men include2:

  • Becoming obsessive with work. The man may work for hours on end without taking any breaks. 

  • Some men tend to become controlling in a relationship. 

  • It is not unheard of for a man to become abusive when they feel depressed. 

  • A lot of men will start to avoid social situations when they are depressed. In many cases, the man may also distance themselves from family members. 

  • Men are also likely to participate in behaviors that are generally considered high-risk. This may include unsafe sexual activities with no protection. Some men may also start to gamble. 

  • Men are also at risk of suicide. In fact, men tend to commit suicide more commonly than women when they are depressed. The risk of suicide increases with major depression. A major depressive disorder is a severe mental condition. 

  • Sleep disturbance is also common.

It is also important to recognize the difference between a depressed man and one with bipolar disorder. 

Emotional Signs In Men

There are a few emotional symptoms that can develop too. These are generally common in men with clinical depression. A lot of therapists consider the emotional signs to be a way for men to cover up the severe depression. Men are generally expected to be masculine. When they are depressed, they may feel that it is interfering with their masculine figure. 

This can lead to emotional symptoms, such as:

  • Anger

  • Aggression

  • Irritability

  • Frustration

  • Sadness

Many of these are also related to the changes in behavior that are often seen in men with depression. 

Suicide Prevention

Men are at a high risk of suicide when they have depression. The risk is even greater when the man does not obtain help, support, or treatment. With this in mind, men must understand how suicide can be prevented. Loved ones should also understand how suicide prevention works. 

If you are at risk of suicide yourself, get any type of sharp objects out of the room. Make sure knives, drugs, and medicines are all stored away. You should also consider speaking to a friend or someone you trust. Giving a therapist or counselor a call can help. 

If you know about a man who might commit suicide, the best option is to call 911. A local emergency number can also be called instead. Appropriate help will be sent out to the man. 

Physical Signs In Men

Apart from emotional distress and behavioral changes, men can experience physical depression symptoms. There are a few ways that depression can affect the physical health of a man. 

Some common physical symptoms that male depression can cause include:

  • Feeling tired.

  • Sleep deficiencies can develop. 

  • Some men sleep too much.

  • Restless and agitated feelings. 

  • The man may experience back pain, as well as limb and joint pain. 

  • Headaches are also relatively common.

  • In some cases, depression also causes digestive problems. 

Why Is Depression Often Diagnosed In Men?

Depression isn’t an illness that simply develops “out of the blue” 3. Instead, it is a mental disorder illness that develops over many years and can be caused by a large number of sources. The specific cause of depression also tends to vary from one person to another as our brains are very complicated.

While it is known that the development of depression occurs when a chemical imbalance is present in the brain, it is important to know that there are a lot of factors behind this occurrence.

Harvard Health explains that, instead of focusing on a chemical balance being the cause of depression, one should rather focus on what is causing the chemical imbalance to occur in the first place. They continue to explain that some common sources behind this development include:

A person may be going through a tough time in their life, which puts a lot of stress on them. Continuously having to deal with stressful events in your life without developing methods to reduce the amount of stress that is placed upon yourself can lead to the development of depression.

Depending on the level of stress that is placed upon a person, the source of the stress, and how well they cope with it, different types of depression can develop. In some cases, if the stress is extremely severe, the person may even develop manic depression.  

Some people have faults in the way their brain regulates their mood. In such a case, this can also lead to the development of depression.

Certain genetic vulnerabilities have been linked to a higher risk of developing depression. 

In some cases, patients have experienced symptoms of depression as a side-effect after they have started to take a specific medication.

Some common drugs that may cause these symptoms or contribute to the development of depression include Singulair, a prescription drug used to treat asthma and Accutane, a prescription drug used to treat severe acne. Other drugs that have also been linked to depression include Lariam, Chantix, Inderal, corticosteroids, and contraceptives. 

Some medical conditions may also contribute to the development of depression as a mental disorder illness. Often, people with cancer, HIV, diabetes, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease develop depression. There is also a link between a higher prevalence of depression among people who have had a stroke in the past.

When To See A Doctor?

A lot of men tend to postpone seeing a doctor about mental concerns. This is a major problem. The depressive symptoms become worse in time. It starts with a depressed mood, and later grow into a serious issue.

Even though depression is highly treatable, failure to obtain the right treatment can lead to complications. Chronic and long-term depression that is not treated can lead to serious problems. 

The development of any mental symptoms should be considered a concern. If the man notices physical or mental changes related to depression, seeing a doctor is always a good idea. It is better not to wait until complications develop. 

Treatment

There are various treatments available for depression. A doctor first needs to assess the patient. This helps the doctor determine how severe the depression is. 

Antidepressant medication is commonly prescribed to patients. This helps to restore a balance in certain neurotransmitters in the brain. It is the first step to recovering from depression.

It may also help to improve a low mood. There are different drugs. Some are used for moderate depression, while others are good for a major depressive episode. 

In addition to medication, men should also consider counseling. Talking to a professional can be very helpful. Mild depression may sometimes only need talk therapy. Major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder, however, can require other treatments too. This is especially the case with suicidal thoughts, as well as when the man has psychotic depression.

Additional conditions are taken into consideration too. Men with mood swings may have a mood disorder. This is an additional mental health problem

Untreated depression can lead to anxiety disorder and other problems. 

Coping Strategies

Overcoming depression can be a daunting task, as you tend to have a feeling of not willing to do anything. However, by just thinking of the things that you can do to feel better, such as spending time with friends, exercising can bring great results. Some of the most effective tips for dealing with depression include: 

Keep in touch with your friends

Reaching out and staying connected to your friends is the most effective way of dealing with depression. This is because friends offer generous support that is important in overcoming the illness. 

Concentrate on doing things that make you feel good

Doing things that make you feel good helps in overcoming depression as they allow you to relax and energize. 

Exercise

Getting out of the bed or room can be a hassle when you are depressed, but exercise is instrumental in fighting depression. 

Enjoy the sunlight 

Sunlight helps in improving serotonin levels and boosting your mood. Therefore, it is essential to spend some time outside when there is sunlight if you are depressed. 

Healthy diet

Ensure that you take a diet that comprises of food that helps in overcoming depression, such as a diet that contains Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin Bs.

Where To Get Help

It is important that men understand where they can get help. When the man has a medical insurance policy, they will be able to make an appointment with their doctor. The doctor can assess the man’s situation. An appropriate referral to a psychiatrist or therapist can then be made. 

There are also some associations that can help men who are not on a medical insurance plan. In such a case, men who cannot afford treatment can still gain access to medication and counseling to treat depression. A mental health professional should ideally be consulted. This can give the man access to cognitive behavioral therapy and other related treatments. 

Conclusion

People with depression can suffer from many additional concerns – not only related to their physical well-being but also related to their social stature and their ability to communicate with others.

When depression is not treated properly, it can even lead to a person “losing their soul” and eventually cause the person’s circle of friends to grow smaller – until they realize they do not have any friends anymore. 

If you are struggling with depression and need someone to talk to there are a number of hotlines and websites you can call, all designed to help and offer support:

www.crisistextline.org

www.anxietyuk.org.uk

www.mentalhealth.org.uk

www.rethink.org

Sources

  1. https://www.bbrfoundation.org/research/depression
  2. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression
  3. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/persistent-depressive-disorder-dysthymic-disorder.shtml
  4. Steger MF, Kashdan TB. Depression and Everyday Social Activity, Belonging, and Well-Being. J Couns Psychol. 2009;56(2):289–300. doi:10.1037/a0015416
  5. Frost, R, Beattie, A, Bhanu, C, Walters, K, Ben-Shlomo, Y (2019). Management of depression and referral of older people to psychological therapies: a systematic review of qualitative studies. The British Journal of General Practice. 69 (680), p171-181.

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