Recognizing Depression in Men

Men are often overlooked when it comes to the discussion of depression. As a wife, daughter, and therapist, it’s important to me that I am aware of the signs of depression in men and to spread education on the topic to my readers.

It’s a common belief that more women suffer from depression than men, but this is actually not the case. In fact, men commit suicide in far greater numbers than women. Why? Men often do not receive help for their depression and there are several possible reasons.

  • Failure to Recognize Symptoms. Men may exhibit some symptoms of depression differently than women, making it less recognizeable to family and friends, and even doctors.
  • Men Are Less Likely To Seek Help. There is still reluctance by many men to seek help for depression. This could be because they see it as a weakness, they are hesitant to admit they need help, or maybe they are reluctant to make the financial or time sacrifices it takes to commit to therapy.
  • Less Awareness. As I mentioned above, most people think of depression as a female problem and we are not educated on the symptoms and statistics of male depression.

So now that we’ve established there is a lack of awareness about male depression, what are the symptoms of depression in men? Men will often exhibit inappropriate anger, an increase in substance use, and will often spend a great deal of time away from home and family (escapist behaviors).

The Uplift Program has a comparison of the male and female symptoms of depression:

SYMPTOMS IN MEN               SYMPTOMS IN WOMEN
Blames others Tendency to self-blame
Anger, irritability, ego inflation Feels sad, apathetic, worthless
Feels suspicious, guarded Feels anxious, frightened
Creates conflict Avoids conflict
Restlessness and agitation Slows down, nervousness
Compulsiveness Procrastination
Sleeps too little Sleeps to much
Becomes controlling Difficulty maintaining boundaries
Shame (eg. sex performance) Guilt
Fear of failure Problems with success
Becomes over status-conscious Assumes low status
Self-medicates through alcohol Self-medicates through food
Over use of internet/TV/email Withdrawal

How To Help:

So what you do if you believe you are depressed (men and women)?

  1. Talk to your doctor. I always, always recommend talking to your doctor as soon as possible. Tell them your symptoms, how long you have had them, and how severe they are and have become.
  2. Exercise. Physical activity releases endorphins that improve mood and increase self-confidence. See how in this article.
  3. Eat well. Believe it or not, food plays a role in mood. It will not cure depression, but every positive life change helps!
  4. Seek counseling. Even if your doctor prescribes medication, studies show that medication combined with therapy will give the best results.
  5. Seek support from loved ones. When you are depressed, you can feel very much alone, defeated, hopeless, and fatigued so having a support system in place is key.

References:

Mayo Clinic

About.com

Suboxone

Uplift Program

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Published by

Kim Peterson, MA, LPC-S, RPT

Kim is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Clinical Supervisor, and Registered Play Therapist in Dallas, Texas.

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