Depression is a treatable health condition that affects millions of men of all ages and backgrounds. However, men suffering from depression have different symptoms than women with depression, making it easy to overlook if you don't know what they are. It's important to know the risk factors and signs of depression because if ignored, depression can lead to serious health issues. Learn how to recognize depression in men and how to get help.
Depression is a serious condition that involves your body, mood, and thoughts. It can affect the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you think about things. Depression is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with depression cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better.
In fact, without treatment, depression can last for weeks, months, or years, making it difficult for people to work and go about their daily lives. Often a person with depression doesn't recognize the symptoms or feels ashamed to ask for help. Appropriate treatment, however, can make a huge difference for most people suffering from depression.
Risk factors for depression
Very often, a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors causes the start of depression. A person can experience depression without any of the following risk factors, but having one or more of these makes depression more likely:
- Family history of mental illness
- Chronic physical or mental disorders
- Major life changes and stress
- Little or no support from relationships
- Low socioeconomic status
- Sleep disorders
Symptoms of depression
Depression can be devastating to family relationships, friendships, and the ability to work or go to school. Symptoms of depression carry a great deal from person to person. Some people have only a few symptoms, while others have many. Symptoms can happen at any age, can change over time, and may include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
- Restlessness, irritability, or anxiety
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
- Feeling tired
- Trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Trouble sleeping, waking up too early, or oversleeping
- Eating more or less than usual
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Loss of interest in sex
- Physical symptoms that defy standard diagnosis and do not respond well to medical treatments
- Thoughts of death or suicide (with or without suicide attempts)
Men with depression
Men can experience depression in atypical ways. While it's true that many men will have the symptoms above, sometimes men with depression become irritable, aggressive, angry, and reckless. A man suffering from depression may not withdraw from friends. Instead, he may find himself pursuing relationships that help him engage in dangerous and risky activities - driving too fast, drinking too much, or gambling excessively.
It is important for men to remember that seeking help for depression is not admitting failure or a loss of masculinity. It is taking steps to help you get back to the person you know you can be. There are many treatments for depression including medication and therapy. The best place to start? You're primary care doctor.