6 Depression Symptoms Men Should Pay Attention To
Symptoms of depression aren’t always black and white — especially when it comes to diagnosing men. Oftentimes men think they must be strong and in control of their emotions at all times, which makes it difficult to admit in a constructive manner if they feel overcome with helplessness, grief, or despair. It’s too bad, because more than 6 million American men are affected by depression each year, according to information shared by the American Psychological Association. This means recognizing depression symptoms is more important than most men realize.
Depression isn’t a sign of weakness, failure, or diminished masculinity. It’s a treatable health condition that affects millions of men and women. Health reminds us clinical depression can cause sadness and a loss of interest in your favorite hobbies, work, or activities. But it can manifest itself in many different ways. Men may find it difficult to talk about their emotions, but there are plenty of other telltale signs you or a loved one may be dealing with depression. Here are the symptoms you need to watch out for.
Anger covers many categories. Some men may express this emotion by appearing more irritable than usual, having less humor, showing hostility, or getting upset over small things. Even acting more sensitive or being violent count as showing anger.
While depression in women may look more like sadness, men are more likely to showcase pessimism or impatience. “Men will report feeling irritable because they are having negative thoughts constantly,” Josh Klapow, Ph.D. and clinical psychologist, told Health.
2. Reckless behavior
Escapist or risky behavior is really common in men with depression, says HelpGuide.org. Men may take an interest in extreme sports, driving recklessly, or engaging in unsafe sex. Another thing to specifically watch out for is substance abuse, especially if that abuse is atypical for their normal behavior.
The cycle of substance abuse
Substance abuse and mental illness are deeply connected — drinking and drugs can both lead to depression and be what people turn to in times of great stress and sadness. For men with depression, it’s common to use marijuana, stimulants, and alcohol to cope, says Drug Rehab. Marijuana consumption can bring on feelings of relaxation, whereas abusing cocaine or prescription drugs can give some men more energy to get through their day.
Of course, self-medicating this way is extremely dangerous. Substances such as these can affect brain chemicals negatively and make other depression symptoms much worse.
3. Physical pain
Like any health condition, physical pain is a side effect of depression. Many men may experience digestive issues (constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux), stomach ache, fatigue, back ache, overall muscle fatigue, insomnia, oversleeping, or headaches. Chronic pain and digestive disorders tend to go hand in hand with depression, Everyday Health explains.
4. Overwhelming stress
Stress can be both a trigger and a result of depression. In the same story from Health, Klapow says men may be more likely to report symptoms of depression as stress because it’s a more socially acceptable way of expressing something’s wrong. And research suggests prolonged periods of stress can contribute to depression and other mental health problems.
5. Sexual dysfunction
When men are depressed, they’re often uninterested in sex, GuideDoc reports. Sometimes, they might find they aren’t able to perform. In rare cases, men may seek out sexual liaisons in order to temporarily relieve themselves of pain or suffering.
6. Harmful thoughts
Sometimes people with depression begin self-loathing, meaning they are extremely hard on themselves due their faults and mistakes. Many feel worthless or guilty for things that may have happened in the past. In more severe cases, some people with depression have harmful thoughts of hurting themselves or even turning to suicide as a way out.
Never ignore when someone is trying to talk to you about their emotions, especially if they reveal suicidal thoughts. Find them the help they need. Everyone’s symptoms differ in severity. Either way, it may be beneficial to seek professional help.
Common depression triggers
Depression is a very real issue for many men, but it often goes undiagnosed, Mayo Clinic reports. Men may also be more likely to downplay their negative feelings, resist mental health treatments, or avoid discussions about their mental health.
With that said, it’s important to note what sort of events typically trigger depression in men. Some risk factors include physical health problems, issues in a relationship, problems with employment, and feeling socially isolated, says beyondblue. It’s also worth noting men who are young, gay or transgender, or living in a remote area are more likely to be affected. Additionally, significant changes like divorce or the birth of a new child can also bring on this mental illness. And of course, your genes are a factor, too.
If you or anyone you know is affected by depression, all hope is not lost — there are a number of options for treatment. Seeking therapy takes a lot of courage, but in the end it’s extremely beneficial in treating depression. HelpGuide.org also notes lifestyle changes such as eating well, regularly exercising, getting enough sleep, and managing stress will help reduce depression, too. It is absolutely possible to recover from this mental illness with the right help and resources.
If you or a loved one is feeling suicidal, call 911 or the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. In addition, reach out to a close friend, loved one, or spiritual leader. You should also contact your doctor to discuss treatment options.
Additional reporting by Lauren Weiler.