Hannah is the Lead Writer for SADA and a passionate advocate for those living with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Through research, storytelling and understanding, she hopes to expand the awareness and knowledge of SAD, and provide support to those in need.

Depression in Men

Depression in men is more common than you may have thought. Many men go through life without being diagnosed and may sometimes experience depression symptoms differently than women do. It has been noted that men are less likely to look for professional help, resulting in a large portion of men going undiagnosed.

Men with depression may experience different symptoms from women. Aside from the symptoms of feeling sad or guilty, appetite and weight changes, poor sleep patterns, lowered concentration, and agitation, men can experience other symptoms like increased irritability, anger, frustration, and aggression.

The symptoms of depression in men vary and may differ from women. In this article, we look at some of the symptoms of depression in men, how to know that it’s time to look for help, and what to do if you, or someone you know, are experiencing depression.

What is Male Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder that affects how you feel and how you behave. It causes changes in your home and work life, changes in your behavior, and can cause physical changes as well. 

Depression can cause you to lose interest in things you once enjoyed, can make you feel like nothing in your life is in your control, and can make things seem hopeless and decrease your will to carry on. It can also lead to suicidal thoughts, ideations, and tendencies.

Fortunately, depression is treatable if the person affected gets professional medical assistance, and there are various treatments available.

The most popular treatment methods are cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy. The use of medication can also aid these treatments in managing depression.

Causes Of Depression In Men

There is no one thing that causes depression. There are many factors to consider when trying to find the source of your feelings. 

Depression can be caused by long-standing problems like childhood trauma, family problems such as a loved one passing away, or divorced parents. It can also be caused by recent life events like losing your job, illness, or drug and alcohol abuse.

Some personalities are more predisposed to depression than others. For example, people who worry a lot, perfectionists, and those who have low self-esteem or are overly critical of themselves.

Genetic factors can also play a role in whether or not a person might suffer from depression.

In order to diagnose depression, you or your loved one that is suffering should contact a professional for help.

Types of Male Depression

Major Depression is one type of depression that interferes in many aspects of a man’s life. It affects their eating habits, relationships, moods, sleep, work, and home life.

Episodes of Major Depression can occur multiple times in a man’s life, or not at all.

There are a few types of Major Depression:

  • Psychotic depression is severe depression in which a man may hear voices or see hallucinations telling him that he is worthless or poor, when in fact, he is not.
  • Seasonal Depression is a yearly occurrence around the same time of year, generally in the colder and darker months. Although it can be elevated wtih the application of a SAD Lamp.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder is less severe than major depression but lasts for a long period of time, at least 2 years.
  • Minor Depression is not as severe as major depression and does not last as long as persistent depressive disorder.

Depression in Men Versus Women

Using standard criteria for diagnosing depression, many more women than men are diagnosed with the disorder. However, studies using alternative criteria incorporating gender differences indicate that the gap between the actual numbers is smaller than we had previously thought.

A leading cause of this gap is that men often use evasive or problem-solving coping mechanisms. In contrast, women use emotion-centered coping mechanisms and seek help and support from others more often. 

Men brush off the negative feelings caused by depression, attributing it to stress caused by their current situation. This can result from the social expectation that men need to be tough and not give in to their emotions.

Men are often unwilling to discuss such feelings and emotions with friends, family, or a healthcare professional and continue to try and maintain an outward appearance of being unaffected by these feelings so that they do not appear weak. Many men do not experience sadness as the primary symptom of depression.

For most men, depression manifests in more physical ways, such as headaches, fatigue, body aches, long-term pain, or indigestion.

The stigma of being diagnosed with depression prevents some men from approaching a healthcare professional. They feel it might negatively impact their careers or relationships.

Although suicide attempts are more common for women, men are more likely to succeed proportionally. This is because men often use methods that are more likely to result in death.

If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, call an emergency number, or contact a suicide hotline immediately. It could possibly mean the difference between the life and death of yourself or a friend or family member.

Symptoms of Depression in Men

Men can experience depression in an entirely different way than women. While there are common symptoms in men and women, men can experience depression completely differently. Men also find it difficult to discuss their symptoms and emotions, but there are some signs that can be picked up.

Emotional Symptoms Of Depression In Men

When suffering from depression, people experience various emotional changes. 

Early signs of depression in men may include emotional changes such as:

  • Anger:  Some men experiencing depression may become generally angry at everybody and everything and may have difficulty managing their anger.
  • Irritability:  Due to the low mood caused by depression, men can become irritable and unpleasant to interact with, which could increase their irritability.
  • Frustration: Frustration can occur when men do not understand the feelings they are experiencing and can manifest in aggression or irritability.
  • Aggression: Men experiencing depression may become more aggressive towards others and, in some cases, can become abusive in relationships.

Physical Symptoms Of Depression In Men

Depression affects us in more ways than just emotionally. It can cause not just emotional discomfort but also physical discomfort. Depression also affects the chemicals in our brains and may affect our moods.

Physical symptoms that men suffering from depression may experience include:

  • Altered sleeping patterns: Men suffering from depression may find it difficult to fall asleep at night. On the other hand, they might sleep more often, for longer, and even for long periods during the day.
  • Tiredness: As a result of the lack of sleep, men might be constantly tired throughout the day and become unable to work or live their lives as they would like to.
  • Altered eating patterns: Many men experience a change in their appetite, either decreased or increased. A decreased appetite will make their eating patterns sparser and more erratic as food becomes less important to them. An increase in appetite can lead to binge eating or overeating. 
  • Weight changes: Due to a lack of appetite resulting in sparse eating or small meals, men can lose weight, even to an unhealthy level. Increased appetite can result in men becoming overweight and obese, creating other health implications. 
  • Body aches: Serotonin and norepinephrine affect pain management in the body. Lower functioning or an imbalance of the neurotransmitters in the body can cause your body to feel like it’s in pain.

If any of these symptoms persist, you should seek the help of a medical professional.

Behavioral Signs Of Depression In Men

When suffering from depression, men go through negative behavioral changes. These behavioral changes are usually self-destructive and also damaging to their relationships with friends and family.

Here are a few behavioral signs that can indicate depression in men:

Avoiding friends and family. Depression can cause men to withdraw from their friends and family, which is the exact opposite of the cure. Reaching out to friends and family can help counteract the feelings of depression. 

If confided in, those people may be able to help by recommending a medical professional or providing emotional support.

  • Excessive drinking or taking drugs. Drugs and alcohol can appear to be a solution for someone suffering from depression because it relieves them of those negative feelings, if only for a little while. Alcohol, however, can push men further into feelings of depression and also negatively affect sleep.
  • Obsessing over work. Men often throw themselves into their work as a technique for distracting themselves from their feelings of depression. They might also feel that if they can achieve more at work, they will feel better. This is an unhealthy behavior because work becomes their one focus. If something goes wrong, there are no other aspects of their lives to draw support or comfort from.
  • Becoming controlling or abusive in relationships. Feeling the loss of control within their minds and emotions, men suffering from depression often try to regain that control externally. This can manifest in controlling or abusive behavior towards friends, family, and significant others.
  • Attempting suicide. When men feel an overwhelming sense of helplessness when everything seems hopeless because the pressure of work is too much and they have cut off all their relationships, they may attempt suicide in an attempt to escape their situation. It is not a rational feeling, but depression affects the mind and causes irrational behaviors.

Coping Mechanisms For Men With Depression

There are effective coping mechanisms out there to help manage depression and the stress that comes with it. You should contact a healthcare professional for proper help in dealing with depression, but here are a few things you can do to alleviate some of the depressive feelings and stress.

Of course, your mental health professional may also be able to give you tools and tricks that can help you to manage and cope with your emotions in a healthier and more productive way. 

  1. Get moving: 

Exercise has been proven to help release endorphins that make you feel good and help you relieve some of the negative emotions you are experiencing. 

Go for a run or to the gym to get your blood flowing and release those endorphins. This helps to channel any aggression and frustration caused by your depression into exercise instead of taking it out on friends or family. 

  1. Reflection: 

Reflect on what emotions are running through you. By compartmentalizing them and examining each one, think about why you are feeling that way, whether it is rational to be feeling that way, and if there is there a way to reduce any negative feelings. 

Meditation can also help with this. By taking a few minutes out of your day to sit quietly somewhere, close your eyes, and examine yourself while breathing slowly and calmly. Taking a second look at yourself and your emotions can give you clarity on why you are feeling that way.

  1. Talk about it:

Talking about your problems and how you are feeling may be difficult, but whoever you are talking to may be able to provide some comfort and support. This can relieve some of the stress of those feelings, now that you have somebody else who is willing to share the burden with you. 

If you do not have anybody you feel comfortable sharing your emotions with, contact a healthcare professional and talk to them about it. They might be able to provide a solution to the problem you have been facing.

  1. Express yourself:

Whether it’s art, or writing, or talking to somebody and describing how you feel, it’s better to express what you feel than to bottle it up and let it eat away at you. These negative emotions will only make you feel worse.

Wrapping Up

Depression is a serious and sometimes life-threatening mental health condition. While it is more commonly diagnosed in women, men are often also victims of depression. By knowing the signs and symptoms of depression in men, you should be well-informed enough to seek treatment or encourage a loved one to seek help. 

You should always know the risk of leaving depression undiagnosed or untreated and seek emergency care if the person who is struggling begins to exhibit the warning signs of suicidal thoughts or ideations.