Men and Depression: How Male Depression Really IS Different
Real Men Really DO Get Depressed
A tough guy—a man’s man—doesn’t get depressed. Or so our American culture teaches us. If you believe what you watch in movies, TV and the US media in general, men should always be in control of their emotions, immune to feelings of sadness, loneliness, anger, agitation, stress and anxiety. But that’s NOT reality. It’s not healthy.
More than five million men suffer from depression each year. Despite our social training that ‘big boys don’t cry‘, we know that they DO indeed cry. And forcing boys and men to ‘stuff’ these emotions causes them to boil inside, to build up steam that eventually comes out in unhealthy ways. The roots of depression are serious, and very often may result in deep depression, with suicidal thoughts and attempts.
Real Men Speak About Depression
Video from YouTube: Paul Gottlieb
Paul Gottlieb, Publisher (video run time :31)
Paul Gottlieb, a victim of depression who spoke publicly, shares his devastating moments ‘controlled’ by the illness. He comments that he never really tried to commit suicide, but he came awfully close to it – playing matador with buses and risking his life. These perhaps subconscious suicide attempts played out in New York City – and Gottlieb’s wish to get knocked down in front of the traffic lights was one way of ‘acting out’ his chronic depression.
The NY Times reports that Paul Gottlieb was known in the publishing industry as a bon vivant with a vast network of connections. He was an imposing figure, 6 feet 5 inches tall with a ruddy complexion. On his desk he kept a sign with the French phrase translated as “Let the Good Times Roll,” and could be seen drinking wine or a martini with lunch at the Union Square Cafe. “Excessive partying once lead to a temporary leave from Swarthmore College before graduating in 1956”, said his son Nicholas Gottlieb.
Real Men. Real Depression.
The National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) public service campaign, “Real Men. Real Depression.” focuses on the depressive symptoms that are not likely noticed or admitted by men in general. The campaign shines a spotlight on many successful and ‘manly men’ who are public about their own depression. They include a firefighter, policeman, attorney, and many other men in male-typecast roles who help others acknowledge that depression is real.
Researchers and clinicians are starting to understand that the traditional signs of female depression (sadness, worthlessness, excessive guilt) may not represent many males’ experiences of depression. The American Psychological Association (APA) reports that although research is just beginning to support the idea of a ‘male-based depression,’ men may instead express their depression in terms of increases in fatigue, irritability and anger (sometimes abusive in nature), loss of interest in work or hobbies, and sleep disturbances. It has also been shown that men use more drugs and alcohol, perhaps to self-medicate. These activities can cleverly mask the signs of depression, and make it harder for others to detect and treat effectively.
Quick Facts About Male Depression
Although women may get more attention when it comes to depression and mood disorders, male depression actually eclipses female depression. According to NIMH, four times as many men as women die by suicide in the United States. This is believed to result from a higher prevalence of untreated depression. More interesting statistics on men and depression:
- On average, 12% of men experience some form of depression during their lifetime
- Men are less likely to seek treatment for depression
- Suicide is the 7th leading cause of death for men in the United States
- 68 men dying from depression every day and leaving their families behind
- Unprecedented rates of depression and suicide are progressively rising
Clearly, the incidence of male depression is a pressing issue, and profoundly affects the fabric of American life. When it comes to suicide, men tend not to show their intentions until they are in the act. So it’s critically important for loved ones to understand the differences in male and female depression in order to respond in appropriate, supportive, and helpful ways – before they get to that stage.
Early Signs of Male Depression
Early signs of depression in men also include physical symptoms. As a result of their depression, men may experience debilitating headaches, serious or chronic pain in the back and neck, and other joint pain. Also, digestive issues can accumulate as potential signs of male depression. Other physical signs may include:
- Significant weight loss or gain
- Sleep difficulties – trouble falling asleep/staying asleep, or sleeping too much
- Agitation & restlessness
- Fatigue or low energy nearly every day
However, physical problems are not the only ones that give us clues about depression in men.
Mental signs of male depression may be the primary indicators of a severe problem. For instance, men who have depression tend to pursue risky behaviors such as heavy use of alcohol, using self-medication, having unsafe sex with multiple partners. Additionally, while they may not admit to it, they may:
- Depressed mood most of the day
- Markedly diminished interest and pleasure in all/almost all activities
- Feel an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and pessimism about the future
- See themselves as a burden to others
- Feel worthless, weak and useless
- Feel intense loneliness and abandonment even when they are being supported by loved ones
- Isolate themselves from family and friends
- Act out in angry and hostile ways
Chronic financial and work stress are also some of the early symptoms of severe depression – signs that beg for professional help.
Depression is Treatable
Although it is a serious disorder with rising incidence rates every year, depression treatment is possible. Remission from depression is possible. In fact, many men seek professional treatment for depression. They rather quickly transform their lives and come back from the darkness. With TMS – Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation – remission is likely, within a short 4-6 weeks.
Please share this information
Information is key. The more we are all aware of the symptoms and triggers of depression, the more prepared we are to deal with it – and help those we care about – one treatment at a time.
West, W. (2016). Men and Depression: How Male Depression Really IS Different. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 21, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/tms/2016/01/men-and-depression-how-male-depression-really-is-different/