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.

Definition of Depression

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) defines depression as:

“A common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.”

When people are depressed, they don’t necessarily feel ‘sad’ and instead might feel numb. It can be described as watching all of the colors drains from your life and genuinely feeling quite grey.

Different people experience depression in different ways, so not all the symptoms and feelings will be the same. As with most mental health conditions, there are a number of different types of depression and some may argue that depression itself, can not be defined.

Major Depression

This is when the feelings become so prominent that you may not be able to work, eat, sleep, or concentrate properly.

Major Depression will also affect one’s outlook on life and remove any positivity or optimism.

Within Major Depression, there are various subcategories:

  • Psychotic depression: false beliefs, hallucinations, a fixed and harrowing point of view on something untrue.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): when the depression occurs due to the time of year or weather.
  • Persistent depressive disorder (PDD/dysthymia): an elongated bout of depression usually lasting years but with less severe symptoms of major depression. Around 5 percent of U.S. adults are diagnosed with this each year.
  • Minor depression: persistent negative feelings but for a reduced time or less severe symptoms.

Bipolar Disorder

There’s also bipolar disorder can experience extremely low moods of depression followed by extremely high moods of ecstasy or mania. About 1 in every 100 adults have bipolar disorder at some point in their life with the majority of people developing this condition between the ages of 15-19.

The person is unable to control these moods and each is extremely strong. They may also experience what is called ‘grandiose’ ideas or delusions about their abilities and powers, and a loss of judgment.

About Male Depression 

Everyone will experience some form of depression at least once in their lives as depression can arise from a variety of factors.

You might have a family history of depression or live around someone with depression. Those who have relatives or ancestors who have dealt with depression are far more likely to get it.

Traumatic events are a key contributor as well.

If you’ve suddenly lost a lot of money, a loved one has passed, or are dealing with a particularly difficult event, then you may experience depression.

As well as this, various illnesses can increase your risk of depression or worsen your symptoms. Any mental or physical conditions can cause a dramatic shift in mood alongside the side effects of medications.

Signs of Depression

Men and women can experience depression differently, and not all men experience the same symptoms either.

Some may experience a large amount whilst others may have just one or two.

The National Institute of Mental Health lists the common male symptoms as:

  • Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
  • Feeling anxious, restless, or “on the edge”
  • Loss of interest in work, family, or once-pleasurable activities
  • Problems with sexual desire and performance
  • Feeling sad, “empty,” flat, or hopeless
  • Not being able to concentrate or remember details
  • Feeling very tired, not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
  • Overeating or not wanting to eat at all
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
  • Physical aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
  • Inability to meet the responsibilities of work, caring for family, or other important activities
  • Engaging in high-risk activities
  • A need for alcohol or drugs
  • Withdrawing from family and friends or becoming isolated

2013 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders states that in order for depression to be diagnosed, it must include four changes in functioning and for the symptoms to last for at least two weeks.

How to Deal with Depression

The most important part about dealing with depression is not to do it on your own. If you’re feeling low, then talk to anybody you can about your feelings. Sometimes even just letting someone know that you’re not feeling OK can be extremely helpful.

This helps the feelings to stop being trapped in your head and can stop any notions of being ‘ashamed’ or ‘guilty’ which can cause you to become a recluse.

As well as this, even though it’s incredibly hard and you may not believe it at the moment, remind yourself that these feelings won’t last forever. Clinical depression is completely treatable. Yet, the World Health Organisation states that less than half of those with depression actually receive any treatment.

As soon as you start noticing that your feelings are a real problem, talk with a doctor about what your options are.

Medication is an obvious one, but many people don’t like to take that route. If that’s you, then you might want to try therapy or even individual techniques. Simply take action and don’t think that everything will sort itself out just in case it doesn’t.

Taking medications and going through psychotherapy is known as ‘collaborative care’ and is becoming increasingly popular. The medication can stop the symptoms whilst the therapy treats the underlying cause.

By doing both together, you’re likely to feel better much quicker and be able to sustain these feelings once the treatment is over.

If you or anyone you know is dealing with depression, then it’s important to get help.

Nobody should have to go through this alone or sacrifice their own happiness because they’re scared of what others might think. Depression is an illness just like any other and should be treated as such.

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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