What is Depression?
Depression is a mental healthy affliction, which is becoming as common as cold and flu in everyone; men, women and children alike. Depression can wreak havoc on a patient’s life by affecting the way they feel, think and act and needs to be treated as soon as diagnosed. (6)
Understanding Depression in Men
According to CDC, women are at higher risk for depression; however, it is believed that the number of men getting affected by depression is more than it seems. (1) The cause for misrepresentation in the number of men suffering from depression could be a combination of biological and social factors which make it difficult to diagnose depression in men. Another important thing is that men can feel pressured to act like a man or be “manly” by putting on a bold front and hiding their emotions. (5)
This is the reason why the depression symptoms in men are different and more difficult to understand and diagnose.
This is the reason why it is important to learn about the signs of depression in men to indentify and help someone you know who is struggling to deal with this condition.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Depression in Men? (3, 4)
Depression in Men: Physical Symptoms (3)
When a man is suffering from depression, the first thing they experience is the physical effects of the depression. Depression is actually a mental health disorder, which can easily produce physical symptoms in the body if not treated. The likelihood of men visiting their doctors for any physical health concern is more when compared to emotional or mental health issues.
Some of the common physical depression signs in men are:
- Chest tightness.
- Digestive issues, such as diarrhea, gas and constipation.
- Body pains.
- Sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction.
- Palpitations or racing heartbeat.
- Hormonal problems, such as decreased testosterone.
- Unintentional weight loss or weight gain.
Depression in Men: Emotional Symptoms(3)
Depression is a word that many people equate to a person who looks sad all the time. However, being sad is one of the spectrum of symptoms of depression in men. Other emotional symptoms that men experience in depression are:
- Feeling of anger and frustration.
- Aggression and agitation.
- Emotional withdrawal from friends, colleagues and family.
- Feelings of hopelessness.
- Decreased libido.
- Lack of interest in anything in life, such as the things that used to give pleasure before do not interest the patient anymore.
Depression in Men: Mental Symptoms(3)
The mental symptoms of depression can be different in men when compared to women and this makes it more difficult to diagnose depression in men. The mental or psychological symptoms of depression affect the person’s mood, thought process, emotions and behavior.
The common mental depression symptoms in men are:
- Memory problems.
- Loss of concentration.
- Sleep issues, such as trouble in falling asleep or staying asleep.
- Racing thoughts and obsessive-compulsive thoughts.
- Suicidal thoughts.
Behavioral Signs and Symptoms of Depression in Men:(3)
The different physical, mental and emotional depression symptoms in men also affect their behavior hugely. As many men do not like talking about their emotions or feelings, hence more often than not, the behavioral depression symptoms in men are more obvious. Common behavioral depression symptoms in men are:
- Misuse of drugs.
- Difficulty going to work, and managing family and other responsibilities.
- Being impulsive and reckless, such as having unprotected sex or reckless driving.
- Drinking excessive alcohol.
- Suicide attempts.
- Social isolation.
Why Is It Difficult To Diagnose Depression In Men? (5)
Even though the world is evolving in leaps and bounds, there is still social and cultural stigma surrounding depression and more so when it comes to men suffering from depression. Societal norms are such that men are told to man up and to control their emotions, even though it is not healthy. Society imparts that a man having mental or emotional issues is considered weak and “unmanly.” So, to maintain these social norms, there are many men who suffer from depression in silence and compromise their mental physical and emotional health. Other than this, men are unaware of the less typical depression signs, which they are more at risk for than others.
As many men do not realize or understand their symptoms and signs of depression, they never know what is wrong with them and never know that they need to seek help. Some men who recognize the depression signs in them often struggle to seek help and hide this condition from others because of the fear of judgment from the society, family, friends etc.
This results in men suffering from depression and in order to cope with it, they start staying busy by working long hours to fill their time and do not address the actual disease itself.
It is important that depression be diagnosed and proper treatment is sought to save lives. Suicide rates are known to be more in men, particularly who currently serve or have served in the military. Moreover, men are thrice likely than women to carry through their suicide attempt. (2)
It is important to start a discussion about depression in men, to understand its signs and symptoms and how to deal and seek treatment for it. Depression when treated, enables the patient to live their life to fullest.
What is the Treatment for Depression in Men?(7)
Some of the common treatment measures for depression include medications and talk therapy/counseling; both of these in conjunction work very well for depression treatment. Your healthcare professional will help in developing a customized treatment plan for you which is most effective for you.
Some of the psychotherapy for treating depression include:
- Interpersonal therapy.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy.
- Psychodynamic therapy.
- Problem-solving therapy.
Along with these therapies, antidepressants can be added to the treatment regime if required.
However, if the patient is suffering from severe depression, then medication is started immediately to help alleviate some of the mental, physical, behavioral and emotional depression symptoms; especially if the patient is having suicidal thoughts or has attempted suicide already.
Some of the common antidepressants prescribed for treatment of depression consist of: sertraline, paroxetine, mirtazapine, escitaloprám oxalate amongst others.
One should note that these medications take time before you can see a difference in the way the patient feels. Consistency and patience with the treatment plan is required to successfully treat depression.
While the stigma and controversy attached to mental health is improving; still men find it difficult to discuss about their emotional and mental problems, especially in front of a society that has old age views about how men should be being tough all the time. This makes it challenging to diagnose depression in men, as there are so many social factors involved. (5)
Men should be made aware and made to understand that there is no shame to go through depression and it does not make them weak or unmanly. By doing this, we can create a road towards better and more inclusive mental healthcare.
Along with psychotherapy and medications; depression is a manageable and highly treatable disease, which when treated greatly improves your quality of life.