National Men’s Health Week: Recognizing signs of depression in men

National Men’s Health Week: Recognizing signs of depression in men

The fact that depression affects men in equal measures is a concept largely ignored because the trait of retaining a “stiff upper lip policy” among American men prevents them from sharing their feelings of hopelessness with others. Both men and women can suffer from depression, but the experiences and manifestations may be different. Though the standard symptoms of depression may be same in both men and women, men generally tend to brush aside telltale signs which indicate clearly the level of turbulence in their minds.

Men feel depressed too

As men usually repudiate the existence of depression in their lives and mask their deep-rooted emotions of worthlessness and persistent sadness and rarely seek medical attention for their depressive symptoms, they are more likely to experience constant tiredness and physical pain.

Depressed men tend to suffer from symptoms, such as lack of interest in day-to-day activities, unrelenting fatigue, loss of appetite, disturbances in sleep and lack of sympathy for those around them. Moreover, such men may show unreasonable anger, heightened irritability and tendency to indulge in violent behavior, apart from engaging in acts evincing reckless behavior or escapist attitude.

Elucidating on various depressive symptoms suffered by more than 5 million Americans each year, Dr. Ian A. Cook, the Miller Family professor of psychiatry at the University of California–Los Angeles said, “While the symptoms used to diagnose depression are the same regardless of gender, often the chief complaint can be different among men and women.”

What causes depression in men?

Physicians have not been able to pinpoint at any particular reason for depression in men. A particular incident in one’s life or a culmination of prior experiences may trigger depressive behavior in men. However, the most common factors that may initiate depression in men are:

  • health problems
  • marital discord
  • difficulty in finding the desired nature of employment
  • isolation from society
  • postpartum depression
  • substance abuse
  • retirement

Apart from these usual factors, doctors cite some other reasons that may also cause depression in males:

  • Genetics:  Men with a family history of depression are more likely to acquire depression than those with no past history of mental illnesses in their families.
  • Hormonal imbalance: An imbalance in hormones affecting mood and brain chemistry may cause people to behave differently or stay depressed. PET scans conducted on the brains of depressed people reveal decreased brain activity when compared to those without the disorder.

Finding help

To educate people about health problems among men and boys that can be averted and cured with timely detection and treatment, the National Men’s Health Week is celebrated in the month of June each year. This year, it will be organized between June 13 and 19.

Stressing on the fact that men’s health needs to be understood as a family health issue, Congressman Bill Richardson had said in May 1994, “Recognizing and preventing men’s health problems is not just a man’s issue. Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, men’s health is truly a family issue.”

Depressed men usually find it difficult to reveal their problems before others as expression of emotions is usually linked to feminine character. Also, depressed men are more likely to talk about their physical symptoms and tend to keep their feelings bottled inside them. Making depressed men believe that their disorder has nothing to do with inherent weakness or loss of manliness is imperative as depressed men are more likely to commit suicide than their female counterparts.

The fact that depressive disorders can affect anyone needs to be recognized. Apart from seeking help from a certified medical practitioner, depressed men need to share their feelings with their loved ones or partners, engage themselves in regular exercise, avoid indulging in illicit substance or alcohol abuse and join a support group having people with similar problems. Depressed people must take depression seriously and seek medical help for any changes in their behavior.

If any male member of your family is suffering from depression or any other mental problem, you must seek professional help from the Sovereign Mental Health Services to know about various depression treatment programs. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-954-0529 to know more about various depression treatment centers.

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