Many men suffer from depression. However, the symptoms of depression in men can be very different from the symptoms in women. A depressed man may appear angry or aggressive instead of sad.
Because male depression symptoms are not well-known, family members, physicians and mental health professionals frequently fail to recognize male depression. Researchers continue to explore the differing depression symptoms in men and women. Better information allows for more accurate diagnosis and better treatment for men and women.
Shame is society’s way of making sure men adopt the male gender roles acceptable to society. By understanding these gender roles, and the shame associated with them, we can see that depressed men and women will behave quite differently.
Women with Depression
Men with Depression
Feel sad, apathetic and worthless
Feel anxious and scared
Withdraw when feeling hurt
Sleep too much
Feel guilty for what they do
Find it easy to talk about weaknesses and doubts
Use food, friends and "love" to self-medicate
Believe problems could be solved only if they could be a better spouse, co-worker, parent, friend
Feel others are to blame
Feel angry, irritable and ego-inflated
Feel suspicious and guarded
Attack when feeling hurt
Sleep too little
Feel ashamed for who they are
Feel terrified to talk about weaknesses and doubts
Use alcohol, TV, sports and sex to self-medicate
Believe problems could be solved only if their spouse, co-worker, parent, friend would treat them better
Clinical depression is not just normal sadness like when grieving a loved one or being down for a day or two. Clinical depression typically consumes a person in their day-to-day living. And it may continue for weeks or months. This type of depression interferes with the person’s work or school, their relationships, and with their ability to enjoy life and have fun. Some people feel as if life is hopeless or that they are empty inside. Some of the factors understood to contribute to clinical depression include:
- Genetic Factors including a family history of depression may predispose a man to develop depression.
- Environmental Stress like financial problems, death of a loved one, divorce, major life changes, or loss of employment may trigger depression in some men.
- Serious Medical Illness, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or Parkinson’s disease may result in co-occurring depression. Depression can make these conditions worse and vice versa. Medications taken for these illnesses can trigger or worsen depression.
Depressed men are at increased risk for self-harm. The suicide rate among persons who are divorced or separated is usually reported as 2.4 times greater than the suicide rate for married persons. Compared to divorced women, divorced men are nine times more likely to die by suicide.
- 80% of all suicides in the U.S. are men.
- The male suicide rate at midlife is three times higher.
- For men over 65, the suicide rate is seven times higher.
- While women with depression are more likely to attempt suicide, men are more likely to die by suicide.
Physical symptoms associated with depression include joint pain, limb pain, back pain, gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, psychomotor activity changes, and appetite changes. In some cases heart disease may result from untreated depression.
Many men do not recognize, acknowledge or seek help for their depression. However with treatment, most men with depression get better and re-gain their interest in work, family and hobbies.
Depersonalization and/or Derealization may accompany severe depression.
Depersonalization is a sense of experiencing one's own behavior, thoughts, and feelings from a dreamlike distance. The symptoms usually include feeling emotionally numb, or as if the person is not controlling his or her words and actions.
Derealization is a sense of distance from activities going on in the world, or feeling that one's surroundings are distorted. This can includes feeling as though one is watching events and activities unfold in a movie or on a computer screen, rather than actually participating
Psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for depression. In fact, it can be as effective as medications for certain types of depression. Therapy works by teaching new ways of thinking and behaving, or changing habits that may contribute to depression. Therapy can help men understand and work through difficult situations or relationships that may be causing their depression or making it worse.