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Depression can affect men differently
than it does women. When depression
occurs in men, it may be masked by
unhealthy coping behavior. For a
number of reasons, male depression
often goes undiagnosed and can have
devastating consequences when it goes
untreated. But male depression usually
gets better with treatment.
Male depression signs and
symptoms
Depression signs and symptoms can
differ in men and women. Men also
tend to use different coping skills —
both healthy and unhealthy — than
women do. It isn’t clear why men and
women may experience depression
differently. It likely involves a number
of factors, including brain chemistry,
hormones and life experiences.
Like women, men with depression may
feel blue, feel extremely tired, have
difficulty sleeping and not get pleasure
from activities they once enjoyed. But
other behaviors in men that could be
signs of depression - but not recognized
as such - include:
• Escapist behavior, such as spending a
lot of time at work or on sports
• Alcohol or substance abuse
• Controlling, violent or abusive
behavior
• Irritability or inappropriate anger
• Risky behavior, such as reckless
driving
Because these behaviors could be
signs of or might overlap with other
mental health issues, professional help
is the key to an accurate diagnosis and
appropriate treatment.
Male depression often
goes undiagnosed
Men with depression often aren’t
diagnosed for several reasons. Some of
them include:
Failure to recognize depression.
You may think that feeling sad or
emotional is always the main symptom
of depression. But for many men that
isn’t the primary depression symptom.
For example, headaches, digestive
problems, fatigue, irritability or
chronic pain can sometimes indicate
depression. So can feeling isolated and
seeking distraction to avoid dealing
with feelings or relationships.
Downplaying signs and symptoms.
You may not recognize how much
your symptoms affect you, or you
may not want to admit to yourself or
to anyone else that you’re depressed.
But ignoring, suppressing or masking
depression with unhealthy behavior
won’t make it go away.
Reluctance to discuss depression
symptoms.
As a man, you may not
be open to talking about your feelings
with family or friends, let alone
with a health care professional. Like
many men, you may have learned to
emphasize self-control. You may think
it’s not manly to express feelings and
emotions associated with depression,
and instead you try to suppress them.
Resisting mental health treatment.
Even if you suspect you have
depression, you may avoid diagnosis
or refuse treatment. You may avoid
getting help because you’re worried
that the stigma of depression could
damage your career or cause family
and friends to lose respect for you.
Male depression and suicide
Although women attempt suicide more
often than men do, men are more likely
to complete suicide. That’s because men:
• Use methods that are more likely to
be lethal, such as guns
• Act more quickly on suicidal
thoughts
• Show fewer warning signs, such as
talking about suicide
If you have suicidal thoughts
If you’re feeling suicidal, but you
aren’t immediately thinking of hurting
yourself, seek help.
• Reach out to a close friend or loved
one - even though it may be hard to
talk about your feelings.
• Contact a minister, spiritual leader
or someone in your faith community.
• Call a suicide crisis center hotline.
• Make an appointment with your
doctor, other health care provider or
mental health provider.
Get help when you need it
Asking for help can be hard for men.
But without treatment, depression
is unlikely to go away, and it may
get worse. Untreated depression can
make you and the people close to you
miserable. It can cause problems in
every aspect of your life, including
your health, career, relationships and
personal safety.
Depression, even if it’s severe,
usually improves with medications
or psychological counseling
(psychotherapy) or both. If you or
someone close to you thinks you may
be depressed, talk to your doctor or
a mental health provider. Have the
courage to ask for advice or seek help
when you need it.
Male depression
and coping skills
It takes effort to practice healthy
coping skills rather than denying or
ignoring symptoms of depression,
or trying to blunt your feelings with
alcohol or other drugs. Treatment with
a doctor or mental health provider can
help you learn healthy coping skills.
These may include:
Goals.
Set realistic goals and
prioritize tasks.
Support.
Seek out emotional support
from a partner or family or friends.
Activities.
Engage in activities you
enjoy, such as ball games, fishing or a
hobby.
Decisions.
Delay making important
decisions, such as changing jobs, until
your depression symptoms improve.
Health.
Live a healthy lifestyle,
including eating healthy and exercising
regularly, to help promote better
mental health.
Many effective treatments are available
for depression. So don’t try to tough
out male depression on your own - the
consequences could be devastating.
H
11
Apr/May 2014