Depression is a serious illness in both men and women. It is more common in women, in part because of hormone changes at different times in a woman’s life. But depression is also a real issue for men. It can look different, and men are less likely to be treated for depression. Why is that?
Depression in Men
Men may be more likely to act out when depressed. These symptoms may be more common in men:
Using alcohol or drugs to cope
Doing things to avoid or escape feelings, like working too much
Watching more television than usual
Becoming irritable or angry
Arguing or “looking for trouble”
Doing risky things
Having affairs or cheating
Men may be less likely to have these symptoms of depression:
Anxiety or worry
Some symptoms of depression are common in both men and women.
Not wanting to do things you enjoy, including sex
Feeling very tired
Having trouble focusing or making decisions
Sleeping too much or too little
Not being able to sleep
Eating more or less than usual, or gaining or losing weight without trying
Feeling restless or irritable
Aches and pains or other physical problems that do not get better with treatment
Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
Many men hide depression so well even their doctor might not see it. This can make it harder for men to get treatment. The more we learn about how depression is different in men, the better health professionals will become at spotting and treating it.
The important thing to remember is that depression can be treated.
If you think you may be depressed, see your doctor. If your doctor asks about depression symptoms during a visit, be honest. Another health problem, like an infection, thyroid disorder, or low testosterone might cause you to feel depressed. Sometimes when these problems are treated, depression symptoms will go away. If your doctor thinks your symptoms are not caused by another health problem, you may be evaluated for depression. This could be done by your doctor or by a mental health professional.
During the evaluation, you will be asked about:
Your drug and alcohol use
If you have had thoughts of death or suicide
If depression runs in your family
The doctor will check your mental status, including your speech, thought patterns, and memory. Treatment for depression may include medicine, psychotherapy or both.
Coping with Depression
These tips can also help you cope with depression:
Get regular exercise.
Go to the movies, ball games, or other social activities.
Set realistic recovery goals.
Make it a point to be around people.
Talk to someone you trust.
Expect your mood to improve little by little, not all at once.
Wait to make important decisions, such as job or relationship changes, until you feel better.
Ask your family and friends to help you deal with depression.
It is important for men to understand that depression is a brain disease, not a sign of weakness. Treatment can improve the quality of life of any man who is depressed, as well as those close to him.
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