Explore The Signs of Depression in Men
Men experience depression and in this article you will learn about important symptoms of depression in men. Depression can happen to anyone however, men who have major depressive disorder may show symptoms in different ways when compared to women. Societally, men are less likely to express their feelings and talk about how they feel. Men who are depressed may project their feelings through anger or aggression instead of sadness and tearfulness. Unfortunately, men who do go to the doctor with aggressive and irritable symptoms are generally diagnosed with something other than depression. Depression affects a large percentage of men so, let’s review the signs of depression in men.
So, what is depression?
Depression, also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, is a common and serious mood disorder. Depression affects your ability to feel, think, and handle daily activities. Depression symptoms can interfere with your relationships, work, and desire to do things that you once found pleasurable. Depression symptoms can last for years if left untreated. Which is why it is important for men to seek treatment for depression when they notice feeling “different” for more than two weeks.
Men are not as willing to talk about their feelings and express emotions differently than women. This is one of the reasons that depression symptoms for men and women may be very different. men with depression hide their emotions and may seem to be angry, irritable, or aggressive while many women seem sad or express sadness. Men with depression may feel very tired and lose interest in work, family, or hobbies. They may be more likely to have difficulty sleeping than women who have depression.
Sometimes mental health symptoms appear to be physical issues. For example, a racing heart, tightening chest, ongoing headaches, or digestive issues can be signs of a mental health problem. Many men are more likely to see their doctor about physical symptoms than emotional symptoms and the treatment is based on caring for the physical problems instead of the mental health problems. Some men may turn to drugs or alcohol to try to cope with their emotional symptoms. Also, while women with depression are more likely to attempt suicide, men are more likely to die by suicide because they tend to use more lethal methods.
What are the signs of depression in men?
Depression can affect any man at any age. With the right treatment, most men with depression can get better and gain back their interest in work, family, and hobbies. Different men have different signs of depression, but some common depression symptoms include:
- Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
- Feeling anxious, restless, or “on the edge”
- Loss of interest in work, family, or once-pleasurable activities
- Problems with sexual desire and performance
- Feeling sad, “empty,” flat, or hopeless
- Not being able to concentrate or remember details
- Feeling very tired, not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
- Overeating or not wanting to eat at all
- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
- Physical aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
- Inability to meet the responsibilities of work, caring for family, or other important activities
- Engaging in high-risk activities
- A need for alcohol or drugs
- Withdrawing from family and friends or becoming isolated
Not every man who is depressed experiences every symptom. Some men experience only a few symptoms while others may experience many.
What are the causes of depression in men?
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. Current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of risk factors including:
Genetic factors—men with a family history of depression may be more likely to develop it than those whose family members do not have the illness.
Environmental Stress—financial problems, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, major life changes, work problems, or any stressful situation may trigger depression in some men.
Illness—depression can occur with other serious medical illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or Parkinson’s disease. Depression can make these conditions worse and vice versa. Sometimes, medications taken for these illnesses may cause side effects that trigger or worsen depression.
How is depression in men treated?
Men often avoid addressing their feelings and, in many cases, friends and family members are the first to recognize that their loved one is depressed. It is important that friends and family support their loved one and encourage him to visit a doctor or mental health professional for an evaluation. A health professional can do an exam or lab tests to rule out other conditions that may have symptoms that are like those of depression. He or she also can tell if certain medications are affecting the depression.
The doctor needs to get a complete history of symptoms, such as when they started, how long they have lasted, how bad they are, whether they have occurred before, and if so, how they were treated. It is important that the man seeking help be open and honest about any efforts at “self-medication” with alcohol, non-prescribed drugs, gambling, or high-risk activities. A complete history should include information about a family history of depression or other mental disorders.
After a diagnosis, depression is usually treated with medications or psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. A collaborative approach for depression treatment combines physical and behavioral health care. Collaborative care involves a team of health care providers, including a primary care doctor or psychiatrist and a mental health counselor. Mental health counseling will assist someone with clinical depression to address the underlying reasons for the depression.
How can antidepressant medication help with treating the symptoms of depression in men?
Antidepressants are depression medications that treat major depressive disorders. Antidepressant medications take several weeks to be effective for treatment of depressive disorders. Signs of depression such as sleep, appetite, and concentration problems improve before mood lifts, so it is important to give medication a chance before deciding whether it is effective or not.
Antidepressants side effects include:
- Nausea or feeling sick to your stomach
- Difficulty sleeping and nervousness
- Agitation or restlessness
- Sexual problems
Most side effects of depression medications lessen over time, but it is important to talk with your doctor about any side effects that you may have. Starting depression medication at a low dose and gradually increasing to a full therapeutic dose may help minimize adverse effects. For reasons that are not well-understood, many people respond better to some depression medications than to others. If a man does not respond to one depression medication, his doctor may suggest try another. Sometimes, depression medication may be only partially effective. In that case, another depression medication might be added to help make the antidepressant more effective.
If you begin taking antidepressants for major depressive disorder, do not stop taking them without the help of a doctor. Sometimes people taking antidepressants feel better and then stop taking the medication on their own, and the depression returns. When it is time to stop the depression medication, usually after a course of 6 to 12 months, the doctor will help you slowly and safely decrease your dose. Stopping depression medications abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms.
Mental Health Counseling Helps.
It is okay to talk to a someone about how you are feeling. Mental health counseling, also known as psychotherapy or “talk therapy or counseling”, can help treat depression. Mental health therapy may be as effective as depression medications for certain types of depression. Mental health counseling helps by teaching new ways of thinking and behaving and changing habits that may be contributing to your signs of depression. Mental health therapy can also help men understand and work through difficult situations or relationships that may be causing their depression or making their signs of depression worsen.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), and problem-solving therapy are examples of proven mental health therapies use to treat depression. Treatment for depression should be personalized. Some men might try therapy first and add antidepressant medication later if it is needed. Others might start treatment with both medication and psychotherapy. You and your health care provider can adjust therapy and depression treatment based upon your unique needs.
Self-Help For Major Depressive Disorder
If you are experiencing signs of depression, then the following might help.
- Spending time with other people and talking with a friend or relative about your feelings
- Increasing your level of physical activity. Regular exercise can help people with mild to moderate depression and may be one part of a treatment plan for those with severe depression. Talk with your health care professional about what kind of exercise is right for you.
- Breaking up large tasks into small ones and tackling what you can as you can. Don’t try to do too many things at once
- Delaying important decisions until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well.
- Keeping stable daily routines. For example, eating and going to bed at the same time every day.
- Avoiding alcohol and street drugs.
As you continue depression treatment, gradually you will start to feel better. Remember that if you are taking an antidepressant, it may take several weeks for it to start working. Try to do things that you used to enjoy before you had signs of depression. Go easy on yourself.
If you are unsure of where to go for help, ask your family doctor or health care provider of telephone a professional mental health counselor. Check with your insurance carrier to find someone who participates in your plan. Hospital doctors can help in an emergency. Get help immediately if you are having suicidal thoughts, that means NOW. Get the care you deserve because you matter! Contact a licensed professional counselor at Sobair Professional Counseling and Coaching.