Understanding Depression in Men

Depression is a mental health condition that can affect anyone. However, it often presents differently in men, due in part to internal and external feelings of shame. It is important to understand depression in men, to help them safeguard their wellbeing.
Depression is a mental health condition that can affect anyone. However, it often presents differently in men, due in part to internal and external feelings of shame. It is important to understand depression in men, to help them safeguard their wellbeing.

Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.

Depression is different in men than it is in women. Adult male suicide is one of the most preventable deaths in our society, and depression is a major factor. It’s important to know the signs of depression in men so we can support them and get them the help they need.

Depression in men often goes unrecognized because men are less likely to seek help for their mental health. This is due to the stigma surrounding mental illness, and the pressure to be seen as strong and capable. Often, men will self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to cope with their depression. This can lead to addiction and further mental health problems.

In this article, we will discuss the signs of depression in men and how to get help.

Differences in depression for men and women

There are some key ways that depression manifests differently in men than it does women. For men, some of the ways that they experience depression are:

Externalise feelings of depression

Men tend to be more likely to externalize their feelings of depression. This means that instead of internalizing their emotions and fixating on how they’re feeling, they may lash out at those around them or take risks. Whereas in women, depression is more likely to be internalized. This can look like withdrawing from friends and family or fixating on how unworthy or unlovable they feel.

Feelings of shame or inadequacy

Men may feel like they need to tough it out and not show any weakness. This can lead to feelings of shame or inadequacy if they can’t “fix” how they’re feeling. Whereas women are more likely to share how they’re feeling and seek out support.

Get angry or irritable

Instead of sadness, men may experience depression as anger or irritation. They may have a shorter temper and be more easily annoyed. Women, however, are more likely to experience depression as sadness.

Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness

These feelings are common in both men and women, but men may express them differently. Men may seem more likely to take risks or engage in risky behaviors when they’re feeling hopeless or helpless, whereas women may withdraw or isolate themselves.

Stigma of mental health

There is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health, which can make it difficult for men to seek help. They may not want to appear weak or crazy. Women are more likely to seek out help and talk about their mental health.

Society's expectations

Society expects men to be strong and stoic. This can make it difficult for men to ask for help or admit that they need help. Society expects women to be emotional and nurturing. This can lead to women feeling like they need to take care of everyone else and not take care of themselves; however, being more emotional means that society often accepts and understands when women need time to heal emotionally.

The signs of depression in men

Now that we’ve gone over how depression manifests differently in men, let’s take a look at some of the specific signs and symptoms to look out for.

If you’re feeling persistently sad or down, it could be a sign of depression. Other common symptoms include:

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling tired or low on energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Feeling restless or irritable
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Anhedonia

Anhedonia is the inability to experience pleasure from activities that used to bring you joy. It’s a common symptom of depression, particularly in men.

Formal treatment for depression

If you’re struggling with depression, it’s important to seek professional help. There are a number of effective treatments for depression, including cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that helps you to identify and change negative thinking patterns. CBT has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression.

Medication can also be an effective treatment for depression. Antidepressants can help to relieve symptoms of depression. If you’re considering taking medication for depression, it’s important to speak with a mental health professional to find the right medication and dosage for you.

Making lifestyle changes can also help to reduce symptoms of depression. Exercise, relaxation techniques, and getting enough sleep can all help to improve your mood.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, it’s important to seek professional help. Depression is a serious condition that can be effectively treated. With the right help, you can start to feel better.

Mental wellness tips for men

In addition to formal treatment, there are a number of things you can do to support your mental wellness.

Talk about how you’re feeling with safe people

It’s important to talk about how you’re feeling, even if it feels difficult. Talking about how you’re feeling can help to relieve some of the pressure you’re feeling. It can also help you to connect with others who may be experiencing similar things. It is easier to start this with people you feel safest with such as family or close friends - sometimes people find this easier with a professional who must keep the information confidential.

Ask for help

If you’re struggling to cope, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is no shame in admitting that you need help. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Re-engage in your hobbies

Do things that you used to enjoy but may have stopped doing. Re-engaging in your hobbies can help you to connect with yourself and find enjoyment in activities again.

Spend time with your mates and talk about your mental health

Make time to catch up with your mates. Spending time with people you enjoy can help to reduce stress and promote wellbeing. Talk about how you’re feeling with your mates. This can help to normalize how you’re feeling and start a conversation about mental health.

Challenge your thinking

If you’re struggling with negative thoughts, challenge them. Are they really true? What evidence do you have to support them? Challenging your thinking can help you to identify and change negative thinking patterns.

Get enough sleep

Sleep plays an important role in mental health. Getting enough sleep can help to improve your mood and reduce stress.

Exercise

Exercise can help to relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. It can also help to improve your sleep, energy levels, and overall wellbeing.

Avoid drugs and alcohol

While it may seem like drugs and alcohol can help to numb how you’re feeling, they can actually make things worse. Drugs and alcohol can lead to problems such as addiction, financial difficulties, and health problems. They can also make symptoms of mental illness worse.

Conclusion

Depression is a serious mental health condition that can have a big impact on your life. If you’re struggling with depression, it’s important to seek professional help.

There are a number of effective treatments for depression, including cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. In addition to formal treatment, there are a number of things you can do to support your mental wellness. Talking about how you’re feeling, reaching out for help, and taking care of yourself can all help to reduce symptoms of depression. If you’re struggling to cope, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, there are a number of helplines and support groups available specifically for men struggling with mental health issues:

  • Mensline Australia: 1300 78 99 78
  • Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636
  • Headspace: 1800 650 890

And to develop the confidence and know-how to assist those who are experiencing a health emergency, book a first aid course with Australia Wide First Aid.

Recommended resources

If you want to learn more about preventing, identifying, and managing the symptoms of mental health issues, check out the following articles in our Resource Library:

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