The signs of depression in men can vary slightly from those in women. Reasons for this can be differences in hormones, brain chemistry, and life experiences. The chief complaint can be different among men and women. Men try to mask their depression by resorting to unhealthy coping behavior. Over 5 million men in the U.S. experience depression each year. Here are 12 signs of depression in men.
Men are likelier than women to report fatigue or other physical symptoms as their chief complaints in depression. Fatigue is quite a common sign of depression in men. There can be slowing down of thought processes, speech, and physical movements.
Insomnia or Hypersomnia
When you are consistently sleeping 16 hours or more a night, it is most likely a sign of depression. Also, in depression, men sleep when they should be awake and are awake when they should be asleep. Even insomnia, or difficulty sleeping, is a sign of depression – and this is more common among men.
Backache or Stomachache
Various bodily pains and aches are often reported by men as one of the signs of depression. Backache and headache are commonly reported, as is stomachache. There can be complaints of diarrhea or constipation.
But men are not clued in on the fact that such physical symptoms can be signs of depression.
Irritability is another common sign of depression in men. While they may seem down or sad, they will also show irritability. Feeling irritable can be due to harboring negative thoughts constantly.
The ability to process information can be slowed down in men undergoing depression, due to psychomotor retardation. This can impair concentration on work and other tasks. Also, because of constant preoccupation with negative thoughts, you can lose your ability to focus.
Hostility or Anger
Depression can manifest in some men as hostility, anger or aggression. This could be because they feel a need to show that they are in control and capable or strong in an attempt to cover up the depressed feelings. Men turn hostile when they are pressurised by family or friends to come out of their social withdrawal and join back society.
Even if it is not the case that more men experience stress than women in depression, it is also a fact that men are more likely to report stress as one of their signs of depression as they feel it is more socially acceptable. However, it has to be remembered that stress can also be a cause of depression. Prolonged stress can alter both the body and the brain, which in turn can lead to depression.
There is a strong link between depression and anxiety disorders. Although anxiety is more common in women, men find it more easy to talk about anxiety than sadness as one of the signs of depression. It could be easier for men to talk about being anxious about such issues as job layoffs with their potential implications for their family.
Substance abuse is frequently associated with depression, particularly in men. Alcoholics are twice as likely as people who are not to suffer from major depression. Men are more likely to use alcohol or drugs as a strategy to mask their uncomfortable feelings instead of seeking out health care.
Depression is one of the common reasons for loss of libido and erectile dysfunction, though men may be reluctant to report it. However, erectile dysfunction by itself does not signal depression and could be due to other medical illnesses.
Depression slows down your ability to decide by making it harder to process incoming and available information.
Although women are more likely to attempt suicide, men are four times as likely to be successful with suicide attempts. One reason is men’s choice of lethal methods when it comes to suicide, such as firearms. Men react more impulsively to suicidal thoughts. They also give fewer warning signs, such as prior talk about suicide.
Other Signs of Depression
The essential feature of major depressive disorder is a period of two weeks during which there is either depressed mood most of the day nearly every day or loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities. Other potential symptoms, in addition to the above signs of depression in men, include:
- Feeling sad, tearful, low, or empty
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
- Significant changes in appetite
- Significant weight loss or weight gain
- Considerable distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning.
A combination of medication and psychotherapy is effective for most people with depression. Changes in lifestyle can also help.
In mild depression, regular exercise, healthier eating habits, and sleep hygiene can go a long way in alleviating some of the symptoms and signs of depression.
Psychotherapy, or what gets called “talk therapy,” refers to the treatment of depression by talking it over with a mental health professional on issues of concern and the problems you are facing. There are different varieties of psychotherapy.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This is a short-term therapy that tries to replace unproductive and negative thought patterns with more useful and realistic ones. This treatment involves taking specific steps to address and manage symptoms.
- Interpersonal therapy: This is attachment-focused therapy and focuses on resolving interpersonal problems and assisting symptomatic recovery.
- Problem-solving therapy: This treatment gives tools to manage effectively the negative effects of stresses and strains of life.
The most commonly used medications nowadays for depression are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Alternative medications include norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and atypical antidepressants.
When depression is severe, it can necessitate hospitalization until one’s mood improves. This is particularly so if the person is having suicidal thoughts or has plans to make or talks about suicide attempts.
Brain Stimulation Therapies
Brain stimulation therapies can be considered when depression is treatment-resistant. One of the oldest such therapies in psychiatry is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which is still in use. ECT is highly effective in cases of severe depression not responding to multiple courses of antidepressants, or where you desire rapid relief. For example, ECT might be considered if someone is having strong suicidal plans or thoughts, or is drinking and eating inadequately.
Another type of brain stimulation therapy uses a magnetic stimulus. It is called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS is an approved depression treatment and has been in use for nearly a decade.