Did you know that depression in men is not a sign of weakness and you certainly do not have to tough it out? The following advice will help you to better understand the symptoms of depression in men and is intended to help you feel more hopeful.

Is depression different for men and women?

You will be interested to know that depression in men is different according to each person that it affects. Men are often raised under the assumption that cowboys don’t cry, that a real man is strong, and this strength is revealed in how controlled they are of their emotions.

Therefore when men feel discouraged, that there is no hope, or when they are overwhelmed by a feeling of ineptitude, they will often deny it or look to cover it up. Fortunately, the myth that we always need to be cheerful and content as an indicator of success is not true. Depression is a very common issue that affects many men and women all over the world at various points in their lives and is not a sign of weakness or a lack of manliness.

While millions of men are affected by depression it is not only them as people who feel its effects, but also those who care about them. The wives, partners, family, and friends of depressed men notice the change and will likely be appropriately concerned about it.

It is perfectly normal for a person’s mood to dip if they experience a loss of some sort, or if there is a setback and disappointment in their life. The symptoms of depression in men are different from this – depression changes how the individual functions, feels, and even thinks as they go through their daily lives.

Besides significantly affecting the quality of your work, it has a very real impact on studies, relationships, your diet, sleep, and your general feeling of satisfaction. Severe depression is intense and feels relentless.

The symptoms of depression in men are often overlooked as men either do not recognize their changing emotional state or find it difficult to discuss their emotions and therefore do not. Rather than how men feel emotionally, they are happier discussing how they feel physically.

There are cases when symptoms of depression manifest as physical ailments, such as back pain, headaches, erectile dysfunction, and trouble sleeping, but just as often there are mild or different physical symptoms. This often results in depression that causes them to not be treated, and this of course can have significant consequences for the individual throughout their lives.

Some of the most extreme side effects seen in men who suffer from depression is that they are four times more likely to commit suicide than a woman who is depressed. This means that it is critically important that men seek help for their depression before their feelings of discouragement, despair and despondency become thoughts of death and suicide.

Men who recognize that they are depressed should understand how important it is to discuss their thoughts, emotions, and physical feelings with those they trust. The support of wise friends, doctors, counselors, and other trained medical professionals makes up a very important support network for men who are ill with depression.

After it has been correctly diagnosed there is a wide variety of treatment options that have been proven to successfully treat depression in men and, importantly, prevent it from returning.

Symptoms of depression in men

Men are more likely to either deny their feelings, hide their feelings from those who care about them or try to mask them with other behaviors. This is sometimes caused by their reduced emotional awareness and so struggle to recognize the symptoms of depression within themselves.

The common symptoms of depression are a low mood, decreased interest in leisure activities, inability to perform well at work, gaining or losing weight, or being affected by disturbed sleep, and men may experience these. However, they are more likely than women to also, or exclusively, experience depression symptoms masquerading as something else, such as anger, substance abuse, and increased agitation in their movements.

In men there are a variety of overlooked signs of depression, three common symptoms are anger, reckless behavior, and physical pain.

Anger. This can range from being sensitive to criticism and vague irritability, a loss of a sense of humor, flipping your lid on the road, having a very short temper, or even violence. Some men may become abusive or controlling of others they exert influence over.

Reckless behavior. The risk is fairly subjective, however, the types of risks that men with depression take are usually acknowledged as reckless, such as unsafe driving, unprotected sex, irresponsible driving, or playing very dangerous sports.Part of this may come from drinking too much alcohol, substance abuse, or compulsive gambling.

Physical pain. Not dealing with an illness like depression means that it sometimes manifests itself as physical pain that does not respond to treatment. It can be in your back and head like backache or headaches, sleeping problems, erectile dysfunction, or even digestive disorders.

Are you depressed or do you know someone who is?

Look at this list and see if you can identify with some of the items identified or if you can see that they apply to someone you know:

  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
  • A loss of interest in friendships, and doing things you used to enjoy.
  • Being far more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than you are usually.
  • Tendency to drink more alcohol, take part in reckless behavior, self-medicating using over-the-counter medication, substance abuse, or something else.
  • Constant feeling of restlessness and agitation.
  • Your sleeping and eating patterns have changed.
  • Your work has suffered as you are unable to concentrate like you used to and are so less productive.
  • Negative thoughts flood your mind and you cannot turn them off.
  • You have thoughts about death and curiosity about committing suicide.

These problems feel like they are here to stay. That they are overwhelming and have become entrenched in your life or the life of someone you know. Be encouraged that help for depression is available and effective at every stage of life. You or someone you know must look for help. You will find it.

Did something happen to cause depression?

Many things can trigger depression in men and there is no single cause. Human beings are multifaceted and effects on our health, circumstances, social lives, emotional states, family relationships, and more all play a role, as do our lifestyle choices and coping skills.

Any man can indeed suffer from the illness of depression and various factors increase the risk of it affecting a particular individual. These can be any one or a combination of the following:

  • A family history of depression, drug abuse, or alcohol abuse.
  • Trauma or abuse experienced in early childhood.
  • An inability to deal with stress.
  • Being affected by loneliness and not having sufficient social support.
  • Being alone as you get older and having few social outlets.
  • Experiencing impotence or erectile dysfunction.

Sexual problems and how they impact depression

Not feeling confident to have a sexual relationship is not only a cause of depression in some men it can also be a significant side effect of many antidepressant medications. Studies show that men with sexual function problems have twice the likelihood of being depressed than those without.

Unfortunately, many men are hesitant to acknowledge sexual problems as they think it is a bad reflection of themselves, rather than a problem that is caused by depression and can be treated.

Get help for depression

Depression is mostly caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain and is not something you can think, feel or move your way out of. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you can tough out depression.

Yes, it certainly takes courage to seek help, but you owe it to yourself and those that love you to speak to someone you trust and take proactive steps to exit from your depression. Many men with depression respond well to self-help steps, which include switching to a healthy diet, exercising, and getting social support.

While being proactive do not expect that you will feel better immediately. Men whose sleep and appetite are affected notice an improvement there earlier than a lift in their mood.

Self-help steps are powerful and encouraging as you work toward combatting the symptoms of depression, but often they need to be accompanied by the advice and oversight of a professional who has the expertise and experience to help you.

Christian counseling for depression in men

If you’re looking for additional help to better understand symptoms of depression in men and how to effectively deal with depression beyond this article, please browse our online counselor directory or contact our office to schedule an appointment. We would be honored to walk with you toward a place of healing and hope.

Photos:
“Man Resting”, Courtesy of Ave Calvar, Unsplash.com, Unsplash+ License; “Smiling Man”, Courtesy of Jeffrey Keenan, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Waiting Man”, Courtesy of Brock Wegner, Unsplash.com, Unsplash+ License; “Skateboarding Man”, Courtesy of Brooke Cagle, Unsplash.com, CC0 License