As men, we feel hopeless or overwhelmed by despair we often deny it or try to cover it up. But depression is a common problem that affects many men, at some point in our lives. It affects millions of men of all ages and backgrounds, as well as those who care about them spouses, partners, friends, and family.
Of course, it’s normal for anyone to feel down from time to time dips in mood are an ordinary reaction to losses, setbacks, and disappointments in life. However, male depression changes how you think, feel, and function in your daily life. It can interfere with your productivity at work or school and impact your relationships, sleep, diet, and overall enjoyment of life. Severe depression can be intense and unrelenting.
depression in men often gets overlooked as many of us find it difficult to talk about our feelings. Instead, we tend to focus on the physical symptoms that often accompany male depression, such as back pain, headaches, difficulty sleeping, or sexual problems. This can result in the underlying depression going untreated, which can have serious consequences. Men suffering from depression are four times more likely to commit suicide than women, so it’s vital for any man to seek help with depression before feelings of despair become feelings of suicide. Talk honestly with a friend, loved one, or doctor about what’s going on in your mind as well as your body.
Signs and symptoms of depression in men
Men tend to be less adept at recognizing symptoms of depression than women. A man is more likely to deny his feelings, hide them from himself and others, or try to mask them with other behaviors. And while men may experience classic symptoms of depression such as despondent mood, loss of interest in work or hobbies, weight and sleep disturbances, fatigue, and concentration problems .
The three most commonly signs of depression in men are:
- Physical pain. Sometimes depression in men shows up as physical symptoms—such as backache, frequent headaches, sleep problems, sexual dysfunction, or digestive disorders—that don’t respond to normal treatment.
- Anger. This could range from irritability, sensitivity to criticism, or a loss of your sense of humor to road rage, a short temper, or even violence. Some men become abusive or controlling.
- Reckless behavior. A man suffering from depression may exhibit escapist or risky behavior such as pursuing dangerous sports, driving recklessly, or engaging in unsafe sex. You might drink too much, abuse drugs, or gamble compulsively.
How to know if you’re depressed
If you identify with several of the following, you may be suffering from depression.
- You feel hopeless and helpless
- You’ve lost interest in friends, activities, and things you used to enjoy
- You’re much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual
- You’re consuming more alcohol, engaging in reckless behavior, or self-medicating
- You feel restless and agitated
- Your sleep and appetite has changed
- You can’t concentrate or your productivity at work has declined
- You can’t control your negative thoughts
Triggers for depression in men
There’s no single cause of depression in men. Biological, psychological, and social factors all play a part, as do lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills.
While any man can suffer from depression, there are some risk factors that make a man more vulnerable, such as:
- Loneliness and lack of social support
- Inability to effectively deal with stress
- A history of alcohol or drug abuse
- Early childhood trauma or abuse
- Aging in isolation, with few social outlets
Depression and erectile dysfunction
Impotence or erectile dysfunction is not only a trigger of depression in men, it can also be a side effect of many antidepressant medications.
- Men with sexual function problems are almost twice as likely to be depressed as those without.
- Depression increases the risk of erectile dysfunction.
- Many men are reluctant to acknowledge sexual problems, thinking it’s a reflection on their manhood rather than a treatable problem caused by depression.
Getting help for male depression
Don’t try to tough out depression on your own. It takes courage to seek help from a loved one or a professional. Most men with depression respond well to self-help steps such as reaching out for social support, exercising, switching to a healthy diet, and making other lifestyle changes.
But don’t expect your mood to improve instantly. You’ll likely begin to feel a little better each day. Many men recovering from depression notice improvements in sleep patterns and appetite before improvements in their mood.