The current DSM criteria for depression can be manipulated 1,099 different ways in order to get a diagnosis, but some typical male symptoms of depression, such as irritability, angry outbursts, substance abuse, and risk-taking behavior are not listed.
Add in the fact that men in general seek mental health treatment in far fewer numbers than women, and even if they are screened for depression, under-report their symptoms, and there are a lot of untreated depressed men walking around out there, suffering needlessly.
How do you know if your partner is one of them?
- What problems is your partner having? Make a list of symptoms that are concerning, such as impatience, quick to anger, using substances to manage mood, poor sleep, impulsivity, etc.
- Are these new behaviors in your partner? If so, can you identify what may have triggered them, such as a loss or change in job, family changes, financial issues, physical health problems or injuries, etc.?
- Is there ever a time when the symptoms you noted in #1 go away? If so, when and why? Is it a seasonal problem, as in your partner’s symptoms are worse in the winter and resolve in the spring? Is it around holidays or other times of the year that are significant for your partner, such as anniversaries?
- Has your partner ever been diagnosed with depression before, or have family members with depression? Both personal and family history are significant contributors to future depression.
Looking over your answers, you might see a pattern or things that stand out as red flags for you. You may not have realized that these atypical symptoms might point to depression. Despite not seeking mental health treatment as often, we know that men are just as likely as women to develop depression.
Your next step is to have a talk with your partner about your concerns, and encourage him to get treatment. The above questions are not meant to serve as a tool for diagnosis, but the information will be extremely helpful for the mental health clinician to know in order to make an accurate diagnosis.
If your partner is reluctant, here are a few suggestions:
- Seeing a psychologist or counselor first, instead of going straight to a psychiatrist for medication, might be an easier in-road to convince your partner to take. It’s just “talking” for an hour, after all. Emphasize that this appointment is an evaluation, not a commitment to treatment. (Leave the hard part to the clinician!)
- Offer to go with your partner to the appointment, and tell him that both of your going to the appointment will make you feel better (taking the pressure off him).
- Give him options, such as whether to see a male or female clinician, and where and when he’d like to go. Offer to take him to lunch or dinner after the appointment.
- If he flat-out refuses to get evaluated, keep trying, but take care of yourself in the meantime. Learn more about depression, and consider getting your own treatment.