How to Recognize Depression in Men
People of all gender identities experience depression at some point. However, it’s more challenging to recognize and diagnose depression in men due to social factors. Most men typically feel culturally pressured to act “manly” by hiding their emotions.
But depression is a severe condition that affects how a person thinks, feels, and acts. If you think you or someone you know may be struggling with depression, read on to learn about the physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral signs and symptoms that men may experience and what you can do next.
Although depression is typically thought of as a mental health disorder, it can also manifest in the body. This is because of the mind-body connection. As a result, men with depression are more likely to visit their doctors for physical issues than for emotional problems.
Some common physical manifestations of depression to watch out for include headaches, digestive problems, hormonal issues, erectile dysfunction, chest tightness, and unintended weight loss or gain.
Mental signs of depression may manifest differently in men, making depression difficult to detect. Some of the most common symptoms to watch out for include sleep issues (usually difficulty falling or staying asleep), racing thoughts, inability to focus, memory problems, and suicidal thoughts.
These symptoms are more likely to interfere with a person's thinking, affecting behavior and emotions.
The tricky part about depression is that not everyone who has it appears sad. In addition to sadness, men with depression may exhibit the following symptoms: lack of interest in hobbies and work; isolating emotionally from family, friends, and colleagues; aggression; restlessness; anger; hopelessness; and lack of libido.
All the physical, mental, and emotional manifestations of depression mentioned above also affect behavior. Behavior is the most apparent manifestation to others.
In men, behavioral manifestations of depression may include social isolation, excessive alcohol consumption, drug misuse, difficulty meeting responsibilities at work and in the family, engaging in risky activities, and suicide attempts.
Treatment options for depression
The first line of treatment for depression is undergoing talk therapy with a psychotherapist. If this doesn’t work, a psychiatrist may prescribe medications. Implementing both treatment plans is often effective.
Other treatment options a psychotherapist may recommend include problem-solving, cognitive behavioral, psychodynamic, and interpersonal therapy.
However, a healthcare professional may prescribe medication right away for more severe cases of depression, such as for people who have attempted suicide. Medication can help alleviate some of the symptoms of depression, but these medications often take several weeks or months to make a noticeable difference in how the patient feels.
The bottom line
Although mental health is commonly discussed in the mainstream, there’s still some social and cultural stigma around depression—particularly among men. This is because men are conditioned by society to hold in their emotions, which isn’t healthy.
In addition, many men never ask for help because they don’t know how to identify signs of depression. On the other hand, those who do recognize the symptoms may struggle to discuss their experiences for fear of judgment.
Diagnosing depression and seeking treatment can help save lives. By continuing to talk about depression, we can help men recognize the signs. And by seeking support and treatment, men with depression can live their lives to the fullest.