The Mayo Clinic reports that about six million men in the U.S. suffer from depression, but many go undiagnosed. Depression varies in severity but can be very serious, even deadly, so recognizing it when it occurs and getting proper treatment is imperative.
Symptoms of depression in men are similar to symptoms of depression in women and include things like persistent feelings of sadness, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, irritability, lack of energy, trouble concentrating, difficultly sleeping or sleeping too much, loss of appetite or overeating, vague physical complaints like headaches and stomachaches and thoughts of death or suicide.
Men and women sometimes experience depression differently, though. For instance, women are more likely to report persistent feelings of sadness and worthlessness or guilt, while men are more like to report irritability, fatigue and sleep problems. Symptoms of depression in men may also include things like angry outbursts, violent or abusive behavior, excessive use or abuse of alcohol or drugs, impulsive behavior, inappropriate sexual relationships and risk-taking behavior like driving unsafely. Some of these symptoms are not readily recognized as symptoms of depression so diagnosing depression in men can be difficult.
Both men and women sometimes fail to report symptoms of depression or ask for help for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma associated with depression and a sense of shame prevents some people from talking about their condition. This stigma may be greater for men, however, as they may feel suffering from depression is “unmanly.” Men tend to be more reluctant than women in general to talk about their feelings, which leads to greater reluctance to talk about feelings of depression.
When they do talk about their depression, men may focus more on behaviors or physical symptoms, like excessive alcohol or drug use, sleep problems, weight loss or gain, physical complaints like headaches or stomachaches and difficulty getting along with others. Men may not even recognize themselves that they are suffering from depression and the people they talk to about their symptoms may not recognize it, either.
Risk of Suicide
Both men and women attempt suicide, and in fact women are more likely than men to attempt to take their own lives. Men are four times more likely to succeed at suicide, however. This may be partly because men are more likely to choose more lethal means of suicide, like shooting themselves, while women are more likely to try things like overdosing on medication. It may also be because women are more likely to seek help while men often do not. Symptoms of suicidal thoughts should be taken seriously in all depressed people but a thorough assessment of suicidal tendencies is especially important in depressed men due to the increase in risk.
Medicine Net. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=40336. Depression Symptoms in Men.
Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/male-depression/mc00041. Male Depression.