Male depression is a silent epidemic. Millions of American men suffer from depression every year, but depression is still viewed in some quarters, as a women’s disease.
Depression greatly reduces quality of life, and although it is a very treatable disorder, men are far less likely to initiate this treatment. Depression is a mental illness with both psychological and physiological consequences; depressed men are more likely to miss work, to get sick, to abuse drugs or alcohol and far more likely to consider, or commit, suicide.
Men may suffer from depression as frequently as women, but millions of American men maintain a silent stoicism about the way they feel, perhaps feeling that real men don’t complain about their emotions; and so they suffer, and their families suffer and their careers suffer – and for very little good reason.
There is nothing unmanly about mental illness, but there is much that is tragic about living unnecessarily with a very treatable condition.
What Are the Symptoms of Depression in Men?
People with depression feel symptoms such as sadness, hopelessness, fatigue and guilt for most of each day, for 2 weeks in a row or longer.
The actual symptoms of depression vary little between the sexes, but observable symptoms can differ somewhat. Men may feel less able to express feelings and are less likely to cry or talk of suicide, due likely to gender ideas of how men and women are "supposed" to act. Depressed men are more likely than women to display symptoms of depression such as:
- Risk taking
- A lessening of sexual interest or ability
- Alcohol or drug abuse
Untreated depression is senseless, and although a culture of stoicism influences the way men reveal the way they feel, no one should attempt to soldier through a bout of depression.
Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide, a fact that is particularly of concern for depressed men, as although women are more likely to attempt suicide, men are far more likely to succeed. In American, 80% of those that commit suicide are men.
There is nothing to be gained from “toughing out” a period of depression. It won’t work and you will suffer for nothing. The earlier and more aggressively you initiate treatment, the quicker you can get back to feeling like your usual self.
Treatment most commonly consists of medication and psychotherapy; most people are advised to make certain lifestyle changes as well.
To ensure that treatment works like it should:
- Make sure to honestly discuss how you are feeling with your doctor or health care provider. It can be helpful to write down a few points about your symptoms prior to talking with your doctor, so you remember what you need to say.
- Don’t think trick yourself into believing that medication is enough. Psychotherapy is an integral and effective aspect of treatment, regardless of your gender.
- Stick with treatment – healing takes time, and it can take a couple to many weeks for anti depressant medications to become fully functioning. Too many people discontinue treatment that would have worked, had they just given it a chance.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. Men are more likely than women to deal with symptoms of depression with substance abuse; and while a few drinks can make you feel better temporarily, over the long-run, alcohol can make the symptoms of depression worse.
- Take care of yourself; get enough sleep and exercise, comply with your treatment routine and avoid stress like the plague!
Page last updated Aug 24, 2011