Men and Depression
More than 6 million men in the US live with depression. Depression can happen to any man at any age, it does not discriminate and it is not your fault. Depression does not see “weak” or “strong” because Depression is an illness like any other illness.
Not Just A Women’s Condition
Because depression was once widely considered only a women’s condition, men were often hesitant to mention depression symptoms and doctors were less likely to see the symptoms of depression for the treatable mental illness that it is.
Men were told that they were just tired because they worked hard, for example. Fortunately, advances in mental health awareness have made it easier for men to acknowledge to their doctor or to a significant other that they may be feeling depressed.
Jill Goldstein, director of research at the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston has discovered one of the largest depression-related differences between the sexes. Women have about twice the risk of developing the condition as men, Goldstein said. Hormones and genes can get disrupted when brain regions are developing in the male and female fetus late in a pregnancy.
The symptoms of depression can be different for men because not only because men tend to be less likely to express emotion than women. While men and women are evaluated in the same way to determine depression, there ARE different physical symptoms associated with depression in men.
“While the symptoms used to diagnose depression are the same regardless of gender, often the chief complaint can be different among men and women,” says Ian A. Cook, MD, the Miller Family professor of psychiatry at the University of California–Los Angeles.
- Digestive Issues
- Back pain
- Difficulty Sleeping or too much sleep
- Slowness of movement or speech (called psychomotor retardation)
- Irritability (often in place of sadness) that can elevate to anger and hostility
- Suicidal Ideation
- Stress and Indecision
- Sexual Dysfunction
The most common types of depression
Major depression—severe symptoms that interfere with a man’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy most aspects of life. An episode of major depression may occur only once in a person’s lifetime. But more often, a person can have several episodes.
Dysthymic disorder, or dysthymia—depressive symptoms that last a long time (2 years or longer) but are less severe than those of major depression.
Minor depression—similar to major depression and dysthymia, but symptoms are less severe and may not last as long.
Like any other illness, when it comes to treatment you need to develop an action plan that involves the appropriate parties. In the case of depression, you may want to work with both a psychiatrist and a therapist. Some men dealing with depression do not need medication. This all depends on you.
- Get honest about your feelings. Share how you are feeling with someone you are close to: a friend, a significant other, or go directly to your doctor.
- See a doctor, be honest and open about how you have been feeling. Explain your symptoms.
- Create a plan and write it all down.
- Determine with your doctor or a psychiatrist whether medication is necessary. Remember that medication takes some time to work and the first medication you try may not be the medication that works for you.
- See a therapist. It is time to start talking about what has been going on and what is going on now. A therapist can help you work through the challenges of your current symptoms, the process of how your life is changing now that you are in treatment, and what lead up to your depression.
- Keep a log of how you are feeling (there are even apps for that!)
- Don’t just tidy up your mental health, live a healthy life. Walks or other exercise and a healthy diet help your mental health
- Express yourself! Those who express themselves in writing or some other artistic way can find meaning in what goes on from day-to-day. It can be anything(photography, coloring, etc.). Here at Chronically Awesome we have an outlet for you to publish any work of art you desire! Or, maybe you want to keep what you have created to yourself, but create! You will feel better for the effort.
Treatment for depression may be brief or may be something you dedicate the rest of your life to. You will not know until you take that first step. Once you do the healing begins. The investment in time is the investment in you and it is well worth it.
- National Institute of Mental Health
- Goldstein JM, Cherkerzian S, Buka S, Fitzmaurice G, Susser E, Hornig M, Gillman M, Factor-Litvak P, Sloan RP. Sex-specific impact of maternal-fetal risk factors on depression and cardiovascular risk 40 years later. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease 2011; 2 (6): 353–364. PMCID: PMC3558934 (http://mddscor.bwh.harvard.edu/)
- Mayo Clinic
The Chronically Awesome Foundation is not a medical provider and should not be used as such. Always consult a physician for medical and mental health treatment.