News flash: It isn’t only women who can suffer from depression. Yes, women are much more likely to admit to themselves and others that they are struggling with persistent depressed mood, making it easy to forget that men, too, can fall into depression. Men typically are not as “in touch” with their feelings as women. They don’t spend copious amounts of time ruminating about their emotional state, and often consider that practice a sign of weakness. Men are much more hesitant to seek professional help for a major depressive episode due to the perceived stigma toward mental health issues, and also a reticence to chat with a stranger (therapist) about their feelings.
Regardless, about twice as many women as men are diagnosed with major depressive disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 8.5% of the adult population that experience a major depressive episode are women compared with 4.8% being men, for an average of 6.7% of American adults. While the data indicate women are more likely to experience depression than men, could that be because men simply don’t acknowledge it? After all, if they don’t seek help from a doctor for their symptoms of depression they remain undiagnosed. By ignoring the symptoms of depression, men can wind up in a more serious situation down the road.
Some of the common symptoms of depression that both sexes may experience include:
- Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, or emptiness
- Extreme fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping
- No longer experience pleasure in the activities once enjoyed
However, when it comes to male-specific depression symptoms, here are 6 telling signs that a man might be suffering from depression.
- Irritability and anger. When it comes to dealing with depression, men are wired differently from women. Often, when a man feels depressed he may express the frustration with his state of mind by lashing out in anger for no apparent reason. This might be demonstrated through acts of road rage, physical or verbal abuse, being highly sensitive to criticism, or just being chronically hostile or irritable.
- Risky behaviors. When men feel depressed they often stuff these feelings and mask their true emotional state. Sometimes the frustration they are feeling can be exhibited in reckless or escapist behaviors. These might include engaging in high-risk behaviors, such as drinking and driving, compulsive gambling, unsafe sexual practices, engaging in dangerous sports, or picking fights with other men.
- Substance abuse. About 25% of men who are diagnosed with major depression also have a co-occurring alcohol use disorder. Alcoholism and depression is an extremely common dual diagnosis, with the alcohol, a depressant, only making the depression worse. In addition, men have more physical aches and pains associated with depression and may turn to prescription pain medications, inadvertently developing an opioid use disorder. The substance abuse is intended to act as a form of self-medication for the uncomfortable depression symptoms.
- Sexual issues. Men who are depressed often lose their sex drive due to the impact of depression on brain chemistry in the mood center of the brain where appetite, sleep, energy, and sex drive are regulated. Depression can cause a lack of sexual desire as well as erectile dysfunction, which only makes the man feel more depressed.
- Slowed movements. Men with depression experience psychomotor retardation, or the slowing of movement and the reduced ability to process cognitively. The slowing down of physical and mental functioning can impact work, daily tasks, concentration, and decision-making.
- Suicidal thinking. While an increase in suicidal ideation, or a preoccupation in thinking about suicide, is a common symptom of depression among both sexes, in men it is more dangerous. Men are more than four times a likely to die if they do decide to commit suicide, mostly because they are more willing to use firearms.
PeoplePsych Offers Compassionate Help for Men With Depression
PeoplePsych is a team of clinical psychologists who are highly trained in treating men with depression. One of the hurdles of depression treatment for men is just getting them to admit they could use some help. The therapists at PeoplePsych understand this reluctance and have the education and experience to guide the client toward renewed joy in life. For more information, please contact PeoplePsych at (312) 448-7218.