Men have a difficult time with depression because they feel they have to be in control and strong—controlling their emotions all the time. When men feel the typical feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, they cover up these feelings by behaving recklessly, getting angry or drinking too much.
While you might think that depression in men is uncommon, it is actually very common. The National Institutes of Health estimate that 6 million men are affected by depression and suicidal thoughts every year.
Depression is a treatable health problem affecting men of all backgrounds. Besides the man who suffers from the condition, the whole family is affected—children, family members, wives, and close friends. Depression doesn’t just affect the mind. It can lead to physical conditions, such as heart disease and chronic medical conditions.
Depression is worse than the normal dips in mood everyone faces. It involves recurrent or unrelenting feelings of hopelessness of despair that influence all aspects of your life—from work, to family relationships, to free time. You simply can’t enjoy life as well when you are depressed.
Depression In Men Is Overlooked
A man’s experience with depression has a high likelihood of being overlooked. Men don’t talk about their feelings as much as women do. Instead, they experience physical symptoms like headaches, sleep deprivation, back pain, and sexual difficulties. This often results in under-treatment of depression in men. It means that men are not often identified as being depressed until it reaches a point of suicide.
Men have a lesser tendency to commit suicide when compared to women but they are more likely to be successful at a suicide attempt than women are. This is because they use things like guns to commit suicide and are less likely to take pills, which has a higher rate of survival.
Symptoms Of Depression
Men who experience depression may have the typical symptoms of sadness, being withdrawn, and hopelessness with a loss of interest in activities and friends that used to interest them. They can also be much more irritable and aggressive than women are who are depressed. Depressed men drink more and suffer from compulsive working behaviors. They engage in high risk activities while depressed.
Many men don’t recognize their own symptoms of depression, often denying their feelings. Instead, depressed men will complain about the following:
• Physical pain: Men will complain of headaches, sleep disturbances, erectile dysfunction, and backaches. They may have digestive difficulties that don’t respond, as they should to the usual treatment.
• Anger: Men who are depressed are often angry and irritable. Some resort to violence, becoming abusive to their spouses or picking fights with others. They become controlling and difficult to live with.
• Reckless behavior: Men try to escape their depressed feelings by engaging in dangerous and risky behavior. They may suffer from compulsive gambling, drug abuse, or driving while drinking.
• Blaming others: While women blame themselves and feel guilty, men often blame others and are angry at everyone around them
• Feel suspicious: Instead of being anxious and afraid, men become paranoid, guarded, and suspicious. They don’t trust others and this makes it hard to get help.
Causes Of Depression In Men
Like women, men can have many causes to their depression. Many factors—both biological and environmental—play a role in who gets depressed and who does not.
Common Causes Of Depression In Men Include:
• Relationship difficulties
• Stress at home, work or school
• Changing life circumstances
• Failure to reach goals
• Having constant financial difficulty
• Recently stopping smoking
• A recent death in the family
• Overwhelming responsibilities
• Loss of independence through retirement
Treating Depression In Men
Men need as much treatment as women when it comes to treating depression. Care can come in the form of psychotherapy that is done on a weekly basis. Cognitive-behavioral therapy works especially well in patients who are depressed.
Antidepressants can also help men who have depression, even though one of the side effects is erectile dysfunction. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs are good medications to try to reduce the physiological reasons behind being depressed.
Lifestyle Changes And Depression
Sometimes lifestyle changes can improve depression in men. This means getting regular exercise, eating better, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and stopping smoking. Men with depression should try to get enough sleep and reduce the amount of stress in their lives, if possible.
Men should try to build up their social network in order to reduce the amount of social isolation they feel. Sometimes it means getting together with friends on a regular basis and sometimes it means joining a group for men who have depression. Men need as much social support as women when it comes to depression so they can learn ways of expressing themselves and overcoming the feelings of being so alone in their depressed thoughts.