The symptoms of- and best treatment for- depression in men
Category: Better Mood | Author: Elly Prior | First published: 21-12-2012 | Modified: 07-12-2017
I imagine that you've landed here looking for info on depression in men for one of two reasons:
- You are the partner (or concerned individual) of a man who you suspect is suffering from depression, but who refuses to access help of any kind
- You are a man suffering from depression and you probably wouldn't dream of going to your doctor. I would not even be surprised (but of course I'm not criticising) if you've switched on private browsing so that no one can find out that you've been looking for information about depression. Of course I'm making huge assumptions here - but I know that many men would much prefer to cope by themselves with whatever's bothering them rather than ask for advice. Okay... I know it's a generalisation, but on the whole...
Talking to a counsellor? Highly unlikely! Though I have to say that in the last few years I've seen an increase in men wanting help to get for depression.
Men may also find it difficult to seek help because they themselves may have been less than empathetic in the past towards people with mental health problems. "Burn-out? More likely swinging the lead! Depressed? Oh for goodness' sake - pull yourself together!"
You can imagine, then, how difficult it can be for men to seek help with depression.
Just hear this...
Are depression symptoms in men different than in women?
I'm a little hesitant to talk about how men and women differ, after all we're all each one of us as unique as any star in the skye. I see gender as being on a continuum.
I rather like Prof Baron Cohen's assertion that you can have either a female brain or a male brain regardless of your gender (and that's a huge generalisation of course).
The female brain expresses more empathy and the male brain looks for structure. And then there's everything in between! (This is a huge topic, and not one that I can cover here I'm afraid! So, back to depression in men...)
Research shows that women are more likely to suffer from depression. However, I suspect there's a lot of hidden suffering in men with depression.
If you are depressed...
... you may well...
- feel you've failed in some way
- have financial difficulties
- feel unable to support your family - for whatever reason
- feel you're getting 'past it' (whatever 'it' may be)
- have suffered a breakdown in your relationship
- not be able to see 'a future'
- suffer from work-related issues
These are the things many men (though women too, of course) worry about.
Specific signs of depression in men
Of course, many of the signs of depression in men are the same as in women, so do read my page: Warning signs of depression.
However, here are the signs more specific to many men who could be diagnosed with depression...
7 Signs of depression in men
- Increased alcohol consumption, or other addictions
- Increased risk-taking, for example driving faster, taking less care whilst engaging in adrenaline-junkie type activities
- Irritability: snapping at the slightest thing (and then possibly feeling rotten about having done so)
- Aggression - with all the consequences for your relationship or marriage, very likely to increase your despair
- Withdrawal from normally treasured relationships
- Sexual problems, such as impotence (see further down) - no point in reaching for the Viagra!
- Tendency to escape - working long hours, driving fast, having an affair
If this sounds like you, I wouldn't be surprised if your partner was the first to notice that you haven't been your usual self lately.
See the results of this study on MedicalExpress.com: Depression affects the brains of males and females differently.
Do you recognise these symptoms of depression?
It's unlikely that you woke up one morning thinking you were depressed. It's much more likely that you've been suffering from some physical and emotional 'niggles' which have become more and more bothersome over time:
7 Further symptoms of depression in a man
- Aches and pains - for which you've probably refused to see a doctor!
- Feeling uptight, wound up and stressed
- Disturbed sleep; not being able to fall asleep, frequently waking up in the night, not being able to get back to sleep and feeling dog-tired in the morning
- Feeling listless - you can't be bothered with the things you used to love doing
- Feeling unable to really connect with the very people you care about
- Feeling angry a bit too often, perhaps losing your rag at the smallest provocation
- Thoughts about (a violent) death - potentially one of the most worrying symptoms of depression in men
Men are more likely to think about crashing into the back of a lorry or central reservation, not opening their parachute, faking an accident of any kind or hanging themselves. Incredibly sadly, many men go on to act on those thoughts.
Before you get to that stage - get help now! You can connect with a professional, licensed therapist - in confidence. It's very easy to set up an online session these days. For further information, see my page on online mental health counselling.
A life spent making mistakes is not only honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing."
- George Bernard Shaw, Irish Playwright and co-founder of the London School of Economics
Suicide and depression in men
Thinking about death doesn't necessarily mean you're suicidal right now.
However, I really would like you to think carefully about the meaning of your thoughts.
You may have thought about suicide, though you know you wouldn't do it. Perhaps because of your children, your partner or some other reason that is meaningful to you.
However, the following points are particularly telling about your state of mind and of great concern:
6 Signs that you should seek help as soon as possible
- You have thought about how you'd kill yourself
- You have the means to do it
- You have been planning when to do it
- You have little support
- You see no way out
- You feel hopeless and helpless
Sadly men are three to four times more likely to commit suicide than women. This is because men are more likely to take action when they see no escape.
Therefore you could potentially very quickly shift from:
"I'm not going to kill myself, because..."
"I'm no good to anyone, they're much better off without me."
If you recognise yourself in these descriptions, please don't wait - you need help right now.
Make no mistake about it - those who commit suicide leave their loved ones utterly traumatised with a devastating - often lasting - impact on their mental health.
If you've recently started taking antidepressants and have suddenly started to feel suicidal, please visit your doctor immediately. Your suicidal ideation could be a side-effect of your medication for depression. The same counts if you're feeling abnormally violently angry.
Postpartum depression in men
Postpartum depression is most commonly associated with women who’ve recently given birth. But, it’s not a condition exclusive to mums. Dads can suffer too.
Of course, you won’t have had the same physical experience of birth - but you’ll certainly have been riding the emotional roller coaster of pregnancy and birth with your partner. This can leave men just as susceptible to postpartum depression as women.
A new baby - whilst hopefully being a bundle of joy and happiness! - can bring chaos and exhaustion to your life, both physically and mentally:
- Sleep is often hard to come by - it can feel like the minute you drop off, the baby’s crying and it’s time to comfort/feed/change/settle them, again!
- There’s constant care and attention to be given - to the baby, and your partner
- If it’s your first child, there are all sorts of lessons to be learnt, and all straight away!
- If you’re the breadwinner, you may feel more pressure to provide financially for your family
- Paternity leave can often be very short, depending where in the world you are. So you might be back at work before you feel you’ve had time to properly bond, or you might feel guilty for ‘escaping’ the house every day and leaving your partner behind
- Of course, if you were already having relationship problems or you’ve separated from your partner, you’ll be dealing with a whole host of other emotions depending on how and when you can see your new baby, and how your partner’s coping too
Feelings of being unable to bond properly with your baby can be a sign of postpartum depression. As can suffering from endless and debilitating anxieties about whether you’re ‘doing it right’ or if you’re ‘good enough’ to be a dad.
Becoming listless, disinterested and unmotivated, or feeling guilty, worried and permanently stressed can also indicate that you might be suffering from postpartum depression too.
There’s no shame in it. Just because it’s more commonly associated with women, it doesn’t mean the way you feel is ‘wrong’ or that you should just ‘man up’. There’s help for you too, if you need it. So never be afraid to ask.
Where to seek help
If you're suffering with depression, whether or not you're feeling suicidal, I would so like you to reach out to someone you trust:
- Talk to your partner - he or she might finally get to understand why you're not the person they fell in love with
- Find out if you have access to a workplace counselling service or if you can be referred to a counsellor, therapist or psychologist
- Visit your local health services as they should be well-versed in helping men who are suffering from depression
- Your church community and/or religious leader
- Connect with a professional, licensed therapist -online (click the link for further information)
If you really can't face seeking outside help right now, do have a look at my page about self-hypnosis. There, you'll find lots of suggestions for dealing with specific problems that may be the cause of your depression.
Self-hypnosis, with the recommended downloads, is a powerful, easy and cost-effective way to start helping yourself... and all from the comfort and privacy of your own home.
Depression symptoms in men may include sexual problems
Recent research has shown that depression can lower testosterone levels. This is a change from the previous assertion that men are more likely to be depressed because of their testosterone levels being below par. So depression symptoms in men can include a low libido for example.
It can become a vicious circle of course. You don't fancy having sex - your partner complains - your relationship or marriage suffers - you become depressed - you really can't face having sex.
The good news is that actually having sex, stopping smoking and leading an active, healthy lifestyle are all likely to increase your testosterone levels. What are you waiting for?
The message clearly is that depression in men can be treated very successfully - not with antidepressants - but instead with...
... a healthy lifestyle
... talking therapy
... relationship help (click the link for further information on online relationship advice)
... and supportive friends and family.
Need a little inspiration?
Take a look at this video to see how you really can overcome depression, and move forwards into a happier more fulfilling future...
I would love you to start taking care of yourself, and stop shying away from seeking help with your depression. Why not start by reading the 'Related Articles' here on my site? I promise you, there is so much you can do to help yourself get better again, and my site is here to help you do just that.
Please know that...
- you don’t need to be competitive
- you don’t need to be fearless
- you don’t need to be able to provide
- you don’t have to impress anyone
... to prove that you’re a man
Also, as a man, you too…
… are allowed to cry
... are allowed to care and have feelings
… allowed to ask for support
… are allowed to enjoy close friendships
… can hug another man because you love him as a friend
… can care for the emotional well-being of others in your own unique way
Dare to be yourself! :-)
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How to Get Relationship Advice You can Trust
Depression Warning Signs
Natural Treatments for Depression
How to Communicate Better with Your Partner
Alcoholism and Depression
Other Helpful Links
Huffington Post - Why boys need more emotional support
PsychCentral - Testosterone decline linked to depression, not aging
There's no shame in asking for help. In fact, it's a measure of strength.
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Hello you! :-)
It's me - Elly Prior, I'm the Founder and Author of this site. I'm a 'real' person! I'm hoping to make a positive difference, small or large, to every person who visits my site.
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Images courtesy of: John Hain
, second image?, Steve Mishos