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Men and Depression

Women who are depressed often feel sad, guilty, hopeless, and worthless--and many find that their appetites and sleeping habits have changed.

Many men with depression may likely have different symptoms. These can include fighting with their spouses, losing interest in sports or sex, working six or seven days a week, and becoming withdrawn or even more uncommunicative. They may also express an increase in physical complaints. More than six million men have depression in the U.S. each year. 

Irritability increases, and they may become active in high risk behaviors, such as excessive alcohol intake, taking drugs, unprotected sex, or reckless driving. These behaviors are often an attempt by men to hide their depression, which they see as a weakness.

Emotional pain

It’s dangerous to family members who can be targets of domestic violence, dangerous to strangers who may bear the brunt of anger and reckless behavior, and dangerous to the men themselves, who suffer a high rate of depression-related suicide.

In addition, because of a cultural stigma that labels men who need help as weak and vulnerable, they often fear being diagnosed with a mental illness could cost them the respect of their family and friends, or their standing in the workplace.

Cultural expectations portray males as tough, independent, and resilient. Thus, many men are afraid to seek help, thinking it is a weakness in their personality. This leads to more withdrawal and isolation.

Help is available

One of the most important steps men can take to preserve their mental health is to establish a network of family and friends to rely on.

Here are other steps that may help:

  • Seek help. The first step to getting appropriate treatment for depression is a physical exam by your health care provider. Certain medications, as well as some medical conditions, can cause symptoms similar to depression, so your health care provider should rule out these possibilities first. If no such cause is found, ask your health care provider to refer you to a psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist.

  • Exercise regularly—every day—if you can. Numerous studies have demonstrated exercise can combat depression and stress almost as well as some medications.

  • Take a look at your life. Are you happy in your job and relationships? If not, what can you do to make things better?

  • Find resources about depression. Look on the Internet for information, or get books from the library or bookstore. You will be able to learn about this disorder, and what you can do for it, in private.