Depression in men may include symptoms not normally thought of as the classic depression symptoms. As a result, depression can be difficult to recognize in men. Doctors may also be less likely to suspect it as the root cause of a man's health problems. Men may also not be willing to admit that they are feeling depressed. The condition may be seen as a bad mark for masculinity in men who want to preserve the image of toughness and endurance.
The good new is depression is highly treatable. If you are seeing any of the following symptoms in your or someone else, seek professional help.
Men may act out rather than face underlying problems head on. Here is a list of behaviors in men that may signal depression:
- Using alcohol or drugs to self medicate
- Using escapist behavior, such as working excessively long hours
- Watching excessive amounts of television
- Becoming irritable or angry
- Becoming violent to himself or others
- Creating conflict
- Acting overtly or covertly hostile
- Risk taking behaviors
- Having extramarital affairs
In addition to male associated symptoms, men may also experience classic symptoms:
- Lack of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities, including sex
- Fatigue, decrease in energy level
- Inability to concentrate or make decisions
- Too much or too little sleep
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Restlessness, irritability
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain
- Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
Some men may exhibit more symptoms than others.
Untreated depression has been linked to suicide. Men die by suicide more often than women, even though women make more suicide attempts. This could relate to the fact that women seek help more than men do. Also, men have more access to firearms. Attempting suicide with a gun is more lethal than other methods.
Thoughts of suicide are an emergency. Here are some signs to be aware of:
- Previous suicidal behavior.
- Refer to himself as a bad or rotten person
- Exhibit hopelessness in statements such as “I won’t be a problem much longer,” “You’ll never see me again,” or “There’s no use”.
- Give or throw away important belongings.
Say things like “I’m going to kill myself” or “I’m going to commit suicide”—These threats should
be taken seriously.
- Have hallucinations or strange thoughts.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or call for medical help right away.
Depression can be treated. There are many mental health professionals who have a lot of experience working with men who have depression. The first step toward recovery is asking for help.
Depression. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated February 12, 2013. Accessed March 6, 2013.
Depression and men fact sheet. National Alliance on Mental Illness website. Available at: . Updated October 2009. Accessed March 6, 2013.
Depression in men. Help Guide website. Available at: . Updated December 2012. Accessed March 6, 2013.
Men and depression. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: . Accessed March 6, 2013.
Suicide. Menstuff website. Available at: . Accessed March 6, 2013.
Last reviewed March 2013 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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