Medically reviewed by Dr. Ryan House.
When you think of depression, you may think of someone laying in bed, unable to convince themselves to get up. This is because the mainstream has decided what depression should look like based mainly on women’s symptoms. Men, however, often express depression symptoms differently, making it difficult to spot.
Depression also comes about for different reasons in men than in women. While they do share some common “triggers” like losing a loved one, men may be more likely to suffer from depression after the loss of a job or loneliness.
In This Article
- What is Depression and Clinical Depression in Men?
- 14 Symptoms of Depression in Men
- Things that Increase the Chances of Depression in Men
- Suicide risk for men with depression
- As a Guy, When Should I See A Doctor About Depression?
- Treatment Options for Depression
- What to Consider When Looking for a Therapist
What is Depression and Clinical Depression in Men?
Mayo Clinic defines clinical depression as “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.” Depression can include short bouts of those feelings without being classified as a disorder. To be diagnosed with clinical depression, symptoms must last more than two weeks without a break.
Unfortunately, depression is often missed in men. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the disorder to look out for it in yourself and others.
Major depression is a blanket term covering several different types of depression. A man suffering from major depression may experience a loss of interest in activities (including sex), anger or aggression, mood swings, or even escapist behavior such as playing video games for hours on end.
Subtypes of major depression include:
Psychotic depression is when you suffer from depression so severely that you hallucinate, hear “voices,” or suffer breaks from reality. The cause of this is unknown, but it is often treated in a hospital setting.
Due to the “reality breaking” type symptoms, psychotic depression may look like schizophrenia to those unfamiliar with it. Both conditions cause patients to suffer from psychosis. However, WebMD notes that “those with psychotic depression usually have delusions or hallucinations that are consistent with themes about depression (such as worthlessness or failure).”
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Sometimes called “winter blues,” seasonal depression can affect anyone. And while it affects more women than men, men still suffer from it. Someone suffering from this may feel symptoms of depression set in as fall begins, only to find relief as spring rolls around.
However, just because SAD is a temporary form of depression doesn’t mean it doesn’t need or deserve treatment. Many people find relief from SAD through Light Boxes that can be purchased online. These are specially made lamps that emulate the sun’s rays.
Talking to your doctor about your symptoms is always the best first step.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
Persistent depressive disorder, sometimes called high-functioning depression, is a long-form type of depression that needs to last at least two years to be diagnosed. Symptoms for persistent depressive disorder tend to be less severe and can come and go. However, relief won’t last more than two months at a time, making it difficult to diagnose.
Still, the general rule for depression is that if you suffer symptoms for more than two weeks or don’t find relief for more than two months, it’s time to seek help.
If you suffer from minor depression, you experience depression symptoms on a smaller scale than those with major depression. Because of this, many men put off seeking help. Still, it’s crucial to remember that there is no shame in seeking treatment, and it can help prevent symptoms from worsening.
14 Symptoms of Depression in Men
Unlike women, a man suffering from depression may become easily angered or aggressive. This can be a persistent issue or come and go, like mood swings. The National Library of Medicine points out that, because of this, even some doctors may struggle to spot the issue for what it is. It is also widely known that men are less inclined to talk about how they feel, leaving many suffering in silence.
If you are one of these men or know someone, here are some signs and symptoms to look out for.
- A need for alcohol or drugs
- Engaging in high-risk activities
- Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness (for no apparent reason)
- Escapist behavior, such as spending extra time at work, engaging in sports or video games
- Trouble sleeping (this is more common in men than women)
- Feeling anxious
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy (including sex)
- Feeling sad, lonely, or worthless
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
- Physical ailments such as seemingly random pains, headaches, digestive issues, or cramps
- Zoning out and being unable to keep up with responsibilities
- Mood swings
- Controlling, violent, or abusive behavior
Note: While controlling violent or abusive behavior can be a symptom of depression, it should not be excused. If you are struggling with these tendencies, seek help immediately. On the same note, if you are close to a man who shows these symptoms, remember that your safety comes first.
Things that Increase the Chances of Depression in Men
The core causes of depression in men are still largely unknown. However, the mainstream has adopted the idea that it comes from a chemical imbalance in the brain, which is only partially true. Harvard Health Publishing states, “depression doesn’t spring from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Rather, there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, and stressful life events.”
For men, this could look like suffering trauma, occupational stress, loneliness, PTSD, or many other things.
The workplace and depression in men:
Traditionally, a men’s self-worth and value in the community have been based on his occupation and work ethic. And while working hard and earning a living is still viewed as a good thing, the pressure to keep advancing your career can be overwhelming.
The National Library of Medicine found that “Employment can promote wellbeing by providing regular activity, time structure, social contact, a sense of collective effort, and social identity. However, the workplace can also be a source of psychological stress that can negatively affect employee mental health.”
Interestingly, when the National Library of Medicine looked into studies on depression and men in male-dominated fields, they found “higher levels of depression among workers in male-dominated workforce groups.”
They explain how these fields tend to involve known risk factors for depression and mental illness, such as working alone, inconsistent work, poor working conditions, a lack of control, or tedious tasks.
They go on to suggest that the rate of depression may have to do with conditions, the value of the work, job security, status, emotional demands, and exposure to violence, among other things.
All that to say, if you are a man in a male-dominated field, this may put you at a higher risk for depression and is something to keep an eye on.
It is not uncommon to suffer from depression following a trauma. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, “About 6 of every 10 men (or 60%) and 5 of every 10 women (or 50%) experience at least one trauma in their lives.” For men, this typically involves physical injury, assault, combat, or witnessing a death or disaster.
The National Library of Medicine lists a study that examined 677 individuals who suffered physical trauma. In that study, they found that a “substantial proportion of the survivors of traumatic physical injury necessitating hospitalization develop mental health problems within the 12 months following hospitalization.”
It’s essential to keep this in mind considering men are more likely to suffer from physical traumas than women.
As mentioned previously, occupation dramatically affects men’s mental well-being. With that comes plenty of stress, from career decisions to the pressure of providing for a family. Even though women are fully in the workforce now and no longer rely on their male counterparts for financial support, many men still feel the need to provide and protect.
The issue arises when the stress becomes too much to handle. ValuePenguin’s 2022 survey on stress in America showed that “76% of men feel stressed at least one day in a given week.“
While these numbers are high, the risk of developing depression increases as stress becomes chronic. Chronic stress is when you feel stressed nearly daily for weeks or months at a time.
There are several reasons chronic stress can lead to depression. Still, some of the most common are unhealthy coping habits (such as overworking), disruption to relationships, and the breaking down of routines and structures. All these things can lead to you feeling more stressed and depressed.
If you recognize yourself in any of the above, don’t hesitate to reach out and schedule an appointment today.
Suicide risk for men with depression
It is widely known that depression increases the risk of suicide. AFSP.org states that around 50 percent of those who die by suicide suffer from major depression.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that if you suffer from depression, you’ll attempt suicide, but it increases your risk.
While overall depression rates are statistically higher in women, middle-aged white men had the highest suicide rate in 2020. That year, men died 3.88x more than women, accounting for 69.68% of suicide deaths.
It is often thought that younger people are at the highest risk of mental illness, suicide, and depression. However, the American Psychological Association reported in 2015 that “White men age 85 and older have the highest suicide rate of any demographic group in the United States, four times larger than the population as a whole.”
For men of color, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center reported that “the suicide rate for Black populations in 2020 was under half the overall U.S. suicide rate.” However, “the suicide death rate for men is more than three times the rate for women in Black populations.”
These statistics are why it’s vital to know and understand depression and the risk it poses.
As a Guy, When Should I See A Doctor About Depression?
The first step to solving any issue is admitting there is one. Talk to your doctor if you see yourself in the examples above or suffer from any of the symptoms listed. If you can’t wait until your next appointment before talking with someone, reach out to any of the resources listed below.
This free hotline is available to you 24/7/365. If you would prefer to text rather than talk over the phone, they also have a Lifeline Chat.
- Spanish Phone Line
If you prefer to speak to someone in Spanish, you can call 1-888-628-9454 (toll-free).
Treatment Options for Depression
Therapy is currently the most discussed treatment for depression and other mental health concerns–and with good reason. Talk therapy is a beneficial way to treat depression symptoms.
Still, many men find the idea of talking about their issues daunting. Other options besides talk therapy have been shown to help those struggling with depression.
Neurofeedback monitors your brainwaves through a computer or electronic device to allow the mental health professional to view what is happening inside your brain. They can then take that information to perform noninvasive, painless procedures to help heal the root issue and elevate symptoms.
The National Library of Medicine posted a study on the effectiveness of neurofeedback for depression. It concluded that “neurofeedback treatment may be effective as an augmentation treatment, not only for depressive symptoms but also for functional recovery, in patients with TRD (Treatment-resistant depression).”
Check out our neurofeedback page to learn more.
Another effective way to ease depression symptoms is by taking antidepressants. Antidepressants are approved by the FDA and can start to work in a matter of weeks. They can also be taken while attending talk therapy to help you recover even faster.
On the downside, it may take several tries to find the right type and dosage. Your doctor or psychologist can help you with this issue should you move in that direction.
What to Consider When Looking for a Therapist
The good news is that depression is treatable! AFSP.org states that “between 80 percent and 90 percent of people with depression respond positively to treatment, and almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms.”
Talking to a therapist can be a great first step in understanding your options when seeking treatment and developing a treatment plan. Depending on your goals, there are a few things to consider when looking for a therapist.
- Are they licensed in your state?
- Does your insurance cover the cost/are you able to cover the cost?
- Would you prefer a man or a woman/does gender matter to you?
- Does their personality mesh well with yours?
- Will you want to bring any religious beliefs into your therapy sessions? Will you want your therapist to share those views?
- Do they specialize in the issues you are currently dealing with?
- Would you like to attend sessions in person or online?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or discuss concerns in your first session. Your therapist will provide information and help you feel as comfortable as possible throughout the process.
We can’t wait to hear from you!
Written by Kaitlyn Pfiester.
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