Men and Depression

More than six million American men will have an episode of major depression this year, which is seven percent of the male population. Depression in men is not at all rare, yet it is most often ignored and untreated. Unfortunately, the lingering image of depression as a “female condition” may keep men who are clinically depressed from recognizing the symptoms of depression, acknowledging the problem they face and seeking treatment.

Both men and women get depression. Depression disrupts relationships and interferes with work and daily activities. However, men experience it differently than women. Men may be more likely to feel tired and irritable, and lose interest in their work, family, or hobbies. Because most men do not talk about how they feel, men are more likely to describe physical symptoms, such as feeling tired, rather than feelings, such as sadness, worthlessness or guilt. Men may also be more likely to have difficulty sleeping than women who have depression.

Many men are reluctant to talk about how they feel. They struggle to admit something’s wrong with them or acknowledge a disorder they perceive as a sign of weakness. Helping men see that depression is a normal response to challenging life events helps them to accept and address the disorder.

Depression in men can affect sexual desire and performance. Many men mistakenly feel that the problems are related to their “manhood,” when in fact the issues are caused by a medical problem, such as clinical depression.

It is significant that although women with depression are more likely to attempt suicide, men are more likely to be successful at ending their lives, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 75 to 80 percent of all people who commit suicide in the U.S. are men.

Depression can occur in any of us, but do not lose hope. Eighty percent of people with depression get better with appropriate treatment. When men admit how they feel and seek help, they can not only improve their mood, but also learn valuable skills they will use for the rest of their lives.