Men, women and people of all gender identities can experience depression at some point in their lives. Depression is a serious condition that affects how a person thinks, feels and acts.
This can happen due to a combination of social and biological factors that make it challenging to spot and diagnose depression in men. They may also feel culturally pressured to behave “masculinely” by hiding their feelings.
As a result, depression is more common in men with symptoms that are different and sometimes harder to recognize.
If you think that you or someone you love may be struggling with depression, read on to learn more about the signs and symptoms that men may experience and what you can do next.
Men with depression may first notice its physical effects. Although depression is thought of as a mental health disorder, it can also manifest in the body.
Many men are more likely to visit their doctor because of physical than because of emotional problems.
Some common physical signs of depression in men include:
Mental symptoms of depression may present differently in men than in people of the opposite sex, which can make depression more difficult to detect.
These symptoms can interfere with the way a person thinks and processes information, influencing behavior and feelings.
Some of the most common mental symptoms of depression in men include:
- inability to concentrate
- memory problems
- obsessive-compulsive thought patterns
- racing thoughts
- sleep problems, usually difficulty falling asleep or sleeping
- suicidal thoughts
When most people hear the word “depression,” they think of a person who seems very sad. However, sadness is just one of the many possible emotions that depression can cause.
In addition to sadness, men may experience the following emotional symptoms of depression:
- emotional withdrawal from friends, family, and colleagues
- lack of interest in family, community, hobbies and work
- lack of libido
Mental, physical and emotional symptoms of depression in men can also affect behavior. Because some men resist discussing their feelings, others often have the most obvious symptoms of their behavior.
In men, behavioral symptoms of depression most commonly include:
- difficulties in fulfilling work, family and other personal obligations
- drug abuse
- drinking excess alcohol
- engaging in risky activities, such as reckless driving or unprotected sex
- social isolation
- suicide attempts
Although mental health debates seem to spread and reach and empathize, there is still a certain cultural and social stigma surrounding depression – especially among men.
In general, men are socialized in society to keep their feelings, even though we know it is not healthy. In their efforts to maintain these social norms, many men can jeopardize their emotional, physical, and mental well-being.
In addition, many men have never been taught to recognize the less typical signs of depression that they are more likely to experience.
Some men never seek help for depression because they never recognize the signs. On the other hand, some men who to do recognize signs, may struggle to discuss their experience because they fear the condemnation of others.
As a result, when many men experience signs of depression, they start working long hours or otherwise fill their time to be busy, instead of dealing with depression itself.
Diagnosing depression and seeking treatment can help save lives.
By continuing to open up the conversation, we can help men with depression recognize the signs. By seeking treatment, men with depression can live their fullest possible lives.
Depression is most often treated with talk therapy, medication, or both. A healthcare professional can help you create a personalized treatment plan that works best for you.
Many men begin treatment for moderate cases of depression by scheduling an appointment with a conversational therapist (psychotherapist). From there, the therapist can suggest certain types of care, such as:
Medications can be added as needed.
However, in severe cases, medications can be prescribed immediately to help alleviate some of the physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral symptoms of depression. This may be the case with someone who is contemplating suicide or has attempted suicide.
Antidepressants such as paroxetine (Paxil) or sertraline (Zoloft) are commonly used to treat depression. However, a mental health professional may suggest other medications.
Keep in mind that these medications often take weeks to months or begin to create noticeable changes in your feeling. Be patient and stick to a treatment plan.
When to seek help
If you have one or more of the above symptoms of depression to the point that it interferes with your daily life, consider making an appointment with a mental health counselor.
Most insurance plans provide such counseling, and it is discreet and confidential.
If you have suicidal thoughts, are planning to try, or have attempted suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or call 911.
Although recent conversations about mental health have become more honest and comprehensive, many men still find it difficult to talk about their feelings in a society that supports traditional attitudes about men.
It can also be a challenge to identify the symptoms of depression in men, which are influenced by the same social factors as male biology.
By sharing knowledge about the symptoms of depression in men, we can help clear the way for better, more comprehensive mental health care.
With conversation therapy, medication, or a combination of these two things, depression becomes a much more manageable part of the human experience.