What is depression in men? What does depression look like in men? what are the signs of depression in men? How does depression affect men’s health? What is different about the symptoms of depression in men? How does health care assist men to overcome depression? If you are looking for answers to these and more questions, this article is for you.
Hi. My name is Sean Galla. I have facilitated support groups for men for more than 11 years, including Depression support groups. For most men, depression is still an enigma they seek to understand, and it is one of the topics we discuss in the support group.
If you are a man interested in learning more about depression, know someone who lives with depression, or living with depression, taking the time to understand it is an ideal first step when managing the condition and repairing broken relationships with friends or family members.
In this article, I will get the health information you need to know more about men and depression, including how to overcome those feelings of sadness as a man.
Table of Contents:
Depression in men
For many years, clinical depression was considered to be a ‘woman’s disease.’ This was mainly because it was a mental illness diagnosed amongst women since most men did not seek treatment or went on undiagnosed. The lingering idea that depression is a female condition keeps many men from recognizing the symptoms or seeking medical assistance. And yet, based on statistics, more than 6 million men develop depression every year in the U.S.
Depression is a condition that can affects men’s mental health too. However, the symptoms can vary in men and women. For men with depression, some of the most common symptoms include pent-up anger and aggression as opposed to showing low mood or sadness, as is common among women.
For different reasons, male depression is often undiagnosed and mistaken for an unhealthy coping mechanism. It leads to devastating consequences like substance abuse or even death when it goes untreated.
What is depression?
It is normal for a person to feel irritable or sad or even develop problems sleeping once in a while. However, these feelings only occur for a few days and pass.
Depression is a severe mood disorder that causes severe symptoms and changes how people interact with the world around them. When you have depression, the way you think, feel, and handle daily activities is affected.
Also commonly referred to as clinical depression or major depressive disorder, a man must experience the same symptoms for more than two weeks to be diagnosed.
If you ask any mental health professional, they will tell you that signs of depression in men can vary significantly from those in women. Most men who develop depression may exhibit aggressive behavior, which is not a common sign in women. Some men may experience extreme fatigue, weight loss or weight gain, and lose interest in activities that previously brought them joy. They show less interest in their work and even family.
Men are more likely to experience difficulty sleeping when they have depression. Sometimes, depression can be accompanied by anxiety symptoms such as a racing heart, persistent headaches, tight muscles, heart disease, and digestive problems. Most men will likely see a doctor for physical symptoms than emotional ones.
Because of the inability to understand what is happening without a diagnosis, most men turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms to handle the symptoms. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), some men use alcohol and drugs to manage their lack of sleep and overwhelming emotions. When it becomes too much to bear, some men turn to suicide.
Depression is a mental condition that can affect men’s behavioral health at any stage of life. With the correct diagnosis and treatment, getting better and getting your life back is possible.
What causes depression in men?
According to studies, severe depression occurs due to chemical imbalances in the brain. However, the issue is far more complex. Some of the changes in the brain that can cause depression include faulty mood regulation by the brain, stressful life events, and genetic vulnerability. Several of these factors can interact to cause depression.
Apart from the scientific factors, depressed mood can be triggered by many other factors that affect everyday life, depending on the effect the activities can have on one’s mental load.
For some people, challenging events like the death of a loved one, unemployment, abuse, and even work-related stress can trigger depressive episodes. For others, recent events like divorce or becoming a parent can trigger depression.
You are more likely to develop depression if:
- There is a history of depression in your family
- You live with a serious medical condition
- You take too much alcohol or use narcotics
- You have a personality likely to develop depression.
Loneliness is also a common cause of depression in men. during the covid-19 pandemic, the cases of depression were on the rise since people were forced to stay away from their loved ones and isolate for a long time.
Other times, it is possible to develop depression for no particular reason. It is possible to experience depression even when you don’t see any likely cause in your life.
Types of depression affecting men’s health include major depression, psychotic depression, seasonal affective disorder, persistent depressive disorder, minor depression, and bipolar disorder.
Warning signs of depression in men
Inappropriate anger, irritability, and quick frustration
At least 30% of men diagnosed with depression experience episodes where they are short-tempered. Most men display fits of rage when experiencing depression.
Emptiness and hopelessness
When you are depressed, you develop a pessimistic idea of life. Instead of showing overwhelming sadness, most men develop chronic despair that looks like a loss of interest in life and a negative view of the future.
Lack of sleep or too much sleep
Sleep disturbance is a common sign of depression. This can take different forms. Including:
- Experiencing trouble sleeping
- Sleeping too much
- Regular sleep interruption at night
Sleeping difficulty is a common risk factor for suicide among men.
Lack of concentration and low energy
At least 90% of people with depression experience overwhelming fatigue, likely from poor sleep quality. This affects their performance at work and their daily activities.
Withdrawal from people and activities
Men with depression can suddenly lose interest in things they previously loved indulging in, including spending time with loved ones.
Self-medicating and risky behavior
It is common for men with depression to develop impulsive, self-destructive behavior as a way of numbing their emotions or handling the symptoms. This includes substance use like overindulging in alcohol, experimenting with narcotics, engaging in careless sexual behavior, gambling, and reckless driving.
In men, depression can lead to a dysfunctional sex life, which takes different forms. Difficulty with sexual arousal, delayed or absent orgasms, and erectile dysfunction are all common side effects of depression.
In the U.S., men are up to four times more likely to die of suicide. Men experiencing depression often experience thoughts of suicide, with a good number of them acting on these thoughts. NIH has a dedicated suicide prevention hotline and crisis lifeline you can call if you or anyone you know needs assistance.
Treatment options for depression in men
While it may seem like the depressive episodes will never end, signs of depression in men can be treated. The treatment option used by a healthcare professional varies depending on the severity of the condition. Apart from medical intervention, mental health specialists also recommended behavioral and lifestyle changes.
Antidepressants like norepinephrine are generally prescribed to fight depressive symptoms. Sometimes, you may need to try different medications to find the perfect fit for your symptoms. Before you can experience complete mood changes, you will experience improved sleep, better appetite, and concentration improvement.
Also referred to as talk therapy, a healthcare provider can use several types of psychotherapy to treat depression. For some types of depression, talk therapy can be as effective as psychiatry medication. You can adapt new thought patterns, habits, and behavior through therapy.
IPT (interpersonal therapy), CBT (Cognitive behavioral therapy), and problem-solving therapy are common talk therapy options used to treat depression. Brain stimulation therapy (BST) and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) are often the last approach when other forms of talk therapy fail to yield wanted results. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is also a public health approved depression treatment plan.
A depression support group is a support forum where you meet with other people living with depression. Good examples include Mensgroup (specifically for men), Mental Health America (MHA), and the depression and bipolar support alliance (DBSA).
Depression support groups are not psychotherapy groups. They give members a safe and free space to share, find support, and learn about healthy habits such as meditation for men. It is the perfect place to talk and listen in the company of other people who understand. You will get support to overcome your fears and get the comfort and encouragement you need to cope with depression.
Mensgroup – a men-only support group
While most depression support groups admit men and women on the same platform, Mensgroup is an only-men online support group. Since it is online based, you can access a depression support group from the comfort of your home.
If you think you may be experiencing signs of depression in men, joining Mensgroup is an integral part of the help you need. You will be in the company of other men who have overcome depression and other mental health issues to live their best life.
In this group, you will learn healthy coping skills and build your network around men who remind you that you can rise above your condition. At Mensgroup, you are not alone.
With this article, you can better understand the signs of depression in men to give you a better idea of when to seek help as a man. If you are a man experiencing depressive episodes, you do not have to live in silence. Depression is treatable.
Mensgroup is an online support group specifically for men looking for guidance, support, and building a supportive network. In this support forum, you will be in the company of fellow men who have overcome depression and are willing to help you overcome it too. You are not your depression. At the Mensgroup depression support group, you can lead a better life.