Unveiling Depression in Men and How to Fix It
Written by Chris Suolo on August 1, 2016
Depression can be quite the beast, potentially impacting all aspects of your life.
Unfortunately, since women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression as men, men are often disregarded when it comes to symptoms of depression.
That doesn’t mean that as a man you should ignore or downplay your depression-related symptoms; as Carl Jung once classically stated, "what you resist, persists."
After all, over five million men in the U.S. experience depression each and every year.
This post will address signs of how you can tell if you’re suffering from either an acute or chronic case of depression.
Being Overly Tired
Depressed individuals often experience a lack of energy on a daily basis, often due to decisions or habits related to depression— such as poor sleep, lack of activity, or the taking of antidepressants.
In fact, depressed men are more likely than women to report fatigue-like symptoms as being a main part of their condition.
Other than just being tired, these symptoms can manifest themselves in the slowing of thoughts, speech, or physical movements.
This all makes sense considering that depression can cause one to sleep too much or too little.
For example, you might sleep 12 hours a night, or have symptoms of insomnia, only getting sleep in two hour bursts. Many people who are chronically depressed will often oversleep in order to avoid intrusive thoughts and problems that arise when they are awake.
Although depression and fatigue feed one another, it’s still wise to consult your doctor to make sure that your tiredness is not being caused by some other medical condition.
Aches and Pains
Depression will often appear in the form of a host of other health problems, such as constipation, diarrhea, headaches, or back pain.
I have personally experienced jaw pain (or TMJ) in conjunction with depression, a link that has been confirmed by science.
It’s important to make the connection between depression and chronic pain or digestive issues, as they are often related.
In other words, if you feel bad mentally, there’s a good chance that you will feel bad physically.
While many people shut down when they feel overwhelmed or depressed, it has been shown that many men become overly irritable or edgy when suffering from depression.
In specific, a 2013 study that examined 536 men over a 30-year period found that 54 percent of depressed men expressed irritability in feelings or behavior.
While women can also demonstrate irritability when depressed, it particularly seems to be a hallmark trait of depression for men.
Keeping a positive perspective can help with diminishing irritability, as negative thoughts can fuel feelings of being overly irritable.
It is important to distinguish irritability from hostility or anger, both of which are also symptoms of depression.
Oftentimes, a man suffering from depression will exhibit hostility or anger in order to prove that they are strong and capable in spite of their condition.
Inability to Concentrate
Being unable to concentrate is a classic symptom of depression.
Spells of depression can slow down your brain’s ability to work at full capacity— in more formal terms, this phenomenon is known as psychomotor retardation.
Depression does this partly by filling your mind with negative thoughts that overwhelm. Since depression affects your ability to remember, it can also make it difficult to make mental connections and observations.
Think of your brain as being a machine. When you’re suffering from depression, the machine— your brain— is in disrepair. You will generally need to focus on your condition to get better.
Feeling Stressed or Anxious
Men are said to be more likely than women to report symptoms of depression as being from stress.
It is believed that this might be partly due to the fact that there is a stigma revolving around depression, particularly since it’s more common amongst women.
Stress and depression have a strong correlation: those who are depressed are often stressed, while those stressed are also often depressed.
Furthermore, studies have shown that prolonged exposure to stress can trigger depression through the physical, psychological, and physiological changes it promotes.
Anxiety disorders are a more specialized, clinical categorization of stress that women report at twice the rate of men, much like with depression.
When men report problems with anxiety disorders, they are much more likely to involve job and career issues.
Addiction of any kind can pose tremendous issues, but it becomes particularly problematic when someone abuses substances, legal or illegal.
Alcoholics, for starters, have been shown to be twice as likely to suffer from major depression as people who don’t struggle with drinking.
Although both men and women can suffer from alcoholism, society tends to encourage men to mask their problems, which can lead to an increased incidence.
Although a controversial opinion, a number of experts argue that mental illness can make one more susceptible to drug addiction. Drugs often allow one to escape unpleasant thoughts or feelings, even if temporarily.
The danger, of course, is that drug highs don’t last, and do not solve your personal issues. They can even exacerbate them.
Other forms of addiction can include ones to gambling, sex, and food.
Depression can often manifest itself through the loss of desire, sexual or otherwise.
Issues with sexual performance can not only emanate from depression, but they can make depression worse.
Unfortunately, many antidepressants actually worsen symptoms of sexual dysfunction. However, erectile dysfunction, in specific, does not necessarily signal depression; in fact, your dysfunction might be the result of other conditions or medications.
Studies have proven the link between depression and sexual issues. 35 to 47 percent of people with depression have issues with their sex life, a number that jumps up to 61 percent for those with severe depression. In addition, 40 percent of people taking common antidepressants report a decline in sexual satisfaction.
One study suggested an even more alarming figure: 82 percent of men with erectile dysfunction also reported symptoms of depression.
Most sexual dysfunction is simply from watching too much pornography. Here we explain how to fix that.
Inability to Make Decisions
Some people have trouble making decisions by nature, but a lack of decision-making ability can also signal depression, particularly when the inability to make decisions is a newer behavior.
As has been mentioned, the brain does not operate at full capacity when depressed, which can make it more difficult to process the information needed to make decisions. An overwhelmed brain might also be more prone to doubt and equivocation.
One German study found that depression actually lessens one’s intuitive abilities, a conclusion that could explain the cause of mental illness-induced indecisiveness. The same study also found that depressed individuals tend to worry too much about what’s wrong with them, which not only impairs one’s decision-making skills, but stifles creative thinking.
To preface, suicidal thoughts or ideations are a serious issue, and if they arise, should be treated professionally.
Although women are more likely to attempt suicide than men, men are four times to actually be successful in their attempt. Part of the reason behind the increased success rate is that men tend to choose more lethal methods when attempting suicide, such as by firearm or hanging.
Studies have shown that older men are at the greatest risk for suicide, although doctors may miss signs amongst this group. This is not because a lack of self-care on the part of the patient: 70 percent of older suicide victims saw their primary care physician within a month of their death.
In 2014, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. There were 1.3 million attempts that year, with 43,000 attempts being successful.
Although detachment is also often associated with anxiety, it can pop up when one is depressed.
Detachment can take on the form of dissociating from one’s thoughts and feelings, obligations, friends and family, or physical surroundings. Being too detached can lead to a number of other symptoms on this list— perhaps most prominently, the onset of suicidal thoughts.
Ultimately, depression should always be taken seriously, no matter how mild its symptoms. While this post doesn’t cover each and every way to detect depression, it should provide a great start in terms of being able to determine whether you may be suffering from it.
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Some would even go as far as to say masculinity is way down now, nowadays, and that is a big contributor to depression in men.
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