Reviewed by Whitney White, MS CMHC, NCC., LPC
It's not uncommon to hear on different occasions that depression is experienced differently from person to person. Of course, from different studies, it has been proven that the symptoms of depression vary with respect to age and gender. The symptoms a teen will see may be different from that of an adult. Likewise, there are some symptoms of depression that are more likely to be seen in men than in women. In men, depression may come in a form of unhealthy coping behavior.
Depression is a common mental health condition that can be debilitating and can interfere with your day-to-day activities. For someone who needs help knowing what's happening to him after feeling unusual, it may be helpful to take an online depression screening test to get some potential clarity on the symptoms you’ve been experiencing.
What is Male Depression?
From a general standpoint, depression is seen is as a common and serious mental illness. Male depression under the same umbrella is not an exception. Although many men ignore the truth that it's serious and requires treatment, it's clinically considered a potentially serious condition that can interfere with different aspects of their life.
Some clues may indicate that you have male depression. You may feel withdrawn, isolated, or irritable. Sometimes, you may find yourself overworking yourself or drinking excessively. All these are red flags showing that you may be affected by male depression.
It's observed that male depression is underdiagnosed— this is thought to be because men may feel pressure to not talk about their feelings instead, they think around the physical symptoms that usually come with male depression which include headache, back pain, sexual problems, or sleeping problems.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Male Depression?
Some symptoms that may be experienced by men may include loss of interest in hobbies or work, feelings of hopelessness, sleep disturbances, despondent mood, fatigue, and difficulty in concentrating.
In addition, there are other symptoms that are more likely to be experienced by men than women. These symptoms include agitation, substance abuse, and anger. Some symptoms are common to both genders. These may include:
- Sleeping problems
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
- Feeling extremely tired
- Loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed
BEHAVIORAL SIGNS OF MALE DEPRESSION
- Avoiding loved ones or social situations
- Excessive drinking
- Substance abuse
- Inability to keep up with family responsibilities or work
- Engaging in risk-taking behavior such as unprotected sex or gambling
- Becoming abusive or more controlling in relationships
- Suicide attempts
EMOTIONAL SIGNS OF MALE DEPRESSION
- Suicidal thoughts
Physical Signs of Male Depression
- Joint, limb, or back pain
- Tightness in the chest
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Sleeping problems
- Unintentional weight loss
- Feeling restless or agitated
- Eating disorders
Why does Male Depression Often Go Undiagnosed?
There are reasons why many men are not diagnosed with depression. The following include:
- Some men don’t recognize and acknowledge depression: One of the first things is to recognize the symptoms or signs that something may be wrong. When it's not noticed or seen as something else, then the problem persists.
- Some men may downplay the signs and symptoms of depression: Your depression may not be diagnosed if you fail to recognize the extent to which your symptoms have negatively influenced your life or if you're not admitting to yourself or to others that you feel depressed. Men may feel uncomfortable acknowledging symptoms of depression due to social pressures to “have it together”.
- Some men are too reluctant to discuss their depression symptoms: Many men may find it difficult to discuss the way they feel with their loved ones (family or friends) due to stigma and social pressure on men.
- Some men resist mental health treatment: Because of social pressures on men about what is ok in their behavior and what isn’t, seeking help and treatment may feel like weakness.
What are the Triggers of Male Depression?
Here are different factors that can be responsible for depression in men. Some of these factors include biological, social, and psychological. Other factors that can contribute include relationships, lifestyle choices, and coping skills. The following are some of the common triggers of male depression.
- Early childhood abuse or trauma
- Lack of social support and loneliness
- A history of drug abuse or alcohol
- Inability to effectively deal with stress
- Aging in isolation, with few social outlets
How to Deal with Male Depression
There are different coping strategies available that can help deal with male depression. If your self-care strategies fail to work out as expected, make sure you see your doctor or therapist. The following are some of the effective self-care strategies you can use to deal with your condition:
- Exercise: Exercise can have positive effects on your mental health. Basically, it helps enhance your mood. Also, regular exercise will help improve your fatigue by increasing the levels of your energy.
- Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a common treatment method that can be incorporated into your treatment. It's technically about becoming aware of the present moment.
- Exercise with a partner: One of the negative effects of depression is that it makes you fall into isolation. In order to deal with this feeling, you can make yourself accountable by scheduling daily exercise with a friend. This will help motivate you and can help you leave your shell.
- Get a service dog: A service dog can help deal with your emotional and physical issues. This is because that is what it's trained to do— to give physical and emotional support. There are different emotional benefits that a service dog can render. Walking your dog will get you out of the house and to spend more time outdoors. It can also help you to socialize.
- Get support from friends and family: Your friends and family can greatly support you emotionally. Sometimes, they don't need to do anything other than listen to you. This is because taking about your condition can reduce the levels of your depression.
- Keep up with activities you don't like anymore: One of the common symptoms of depression is that it makes you lose interest in activities that you once enjoyed. You can deal with this by keeping up with these activities even if you don't feel like it.
- Be of help to others: Support others is one of the effective ways to enhance your mood. Try to find ways to support people around you. You can do this by volunteering in developmental programs in your community, doing something nice for somebody, or be a listening ear to such a person.
- Join a support group for depression: There are support groups where there are different people with similar challenges. You can find people to talk to, learn more about your condition, and discover ways to cope by joining a support group.
- Know what triggers your stress: Stress is one of the basic factors that can lead to depression. Stress can tiger your depression, prolong, and make it worse. To deal with depression, you can try to figure out things that usually stress you out which may include financial challenges, heavy workloads, or unsupportive relationships. Dealing with the sources of your stress can help reduce your risk of getting depressed or boost your mood.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Depression can affect your feeling, thoughts, and actions. In men, it can lead to unhealthy behaviors which may include aggressiveness and feeling agitated. Relaxation can greatly be of help in this situation— you can relieve the symptoms of male depression and reduce stress by practicing daily relaxation. Some kinds of relaxation techniques include breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation.
- Lifestyle changes: There are things some people do that can serious consequences on their health. These may include sleep deprivation and unhealthy eating habits.
Sleep deprivation can have serious consequences for your mood. It's very important that you get enough sleep daily. Have a sleep schedule which may be 7 to 8 hours every night. This will help you stay active during the day and will also help boost your mood.
Some foods can help your body; there are some that can't. The intake of excess sugar or refined carbs can seriously affect your energy and mood. Some of these may include baked goods, sugary snacks, pasta, or French fries. You can consume foods that enhance your mood such as fruits and vegetables. In addition, you need to avoid or limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine (they can worsen your condition).
When do you Seek Professional Help?
Depression can seriously interfere with your daily activities and can be debilitating if not resolved. If your self-care strategies do not effectively deal with your condition, then you need to seek the assistance of mental health professionals. Ensure that you tell your doctor or therapist how you feel and the physical symptoms you experience. A licensed mental health professional can recommend some treatments for male depression which may include:
Medication: Medications such as antidepressants can help reduce the symptoms of depression.
Psychotherapy: There are different forms of therapy that can be recommended for the treatment of your condition.