“He who cannot change the very fabric of his thought will never be able to change reality.”
In medical terms, depression is a disorder of mood and ranges in seriousness from mild, temporary episodes of sadness to severe, persistent depression. Doctors use the term "clinical depression" of "major depression" to describe the more severe form of depression.
A depressed mood is not necessarily a psychiatric disorder as it may be a normal reaction to certain life events, a symptom of some medical conditions, or even a side effect of some drugs or medical treatments.
For the layman the term ‘depression” brings to mind images of a sad, withdrawn, teary person who stays in bed and who may be unable to eat, sleep or function normally. These are the usual symptoms associated with depression, but when a man has depression he may present quite a different picture.
The rates of successful suicide are three to four times higher in men than in women, so it is important to be aware of the unique symptoms of male depression. Although depressed women are more likely to attempt suicide, men are more likely to die by suicide. Suicide rates in men peaks in their 20s then falls and then rises again in their 60s and 70s.
Both men and women get depression. But men can experience it differently than women as they are socialized to be tough and strong and not to cry during difficult times. Some signs may suggest that a man is depressed but it is important to note that everyone experiences some of these symptoms from time to time without necessarily being depressed. Equally, not every depressed person will have all of these features. However, if a man who has never acted like this suddenly changes his behavior, we should consider whether he could be depressed.
Depressed men report physical symptoms more often than women. They may experience fatigue, headache, joint and muscle pain, backache, dizziness, chest pain, significant weight loss or gain, change of appetite and digestive problems. However, they are often unaware that these symptom are linked to depression.
Aggression: He may overreact to minor issues and display sudden outbursts of anger or violence. He may even seem to be having a panic attack with sweating and difficult breathing or complain for chest pain and seem out of control.
Withdrawal: A depressed man may start behaving differently. He is more likely to feel tired and irritable, and lose interest in work, family or hobbies than to seem sad. He may withdraw and stop doing activities he used to enjoy and rely more on alcohol and sedatives.
Over-activity: He may have difficulty sitting still to focus on single tasks or become fidgety or jumpy. Has he taken on an unrealistic workload or working late hours on his own? Other men sometimes overextend themselves to try to blunt their depressed emotions. Men are more likely than women to have difficulty sleeping when depressed.
Risky behavior: Gambling, smoking, excessive drinking, abuse of other drugs or any other type of risk-taking behavior may be triggered by underlying depression. It’s important to note that not all men who exhibit these symptoms are depressed.
Thoughts and feelings
If you listen carefully to a man with depression you may often heard him express thoughts such as: ‘I am a failure’, ‘It is my fault’, ‘nothing good ever happens to me’, ‘I am worthless’, ‘life is not not worth living’, ‘everybody would be better off without me.’ Men with depression may feel frustrated, overwhelmed, guilty, unhappy, indecisive, disappointed, miserable or sad.
Common causes of depression
External factors that can contribute to depression in men include: the using drugs – prescription and otherwise, alcohol, relationship or job related problems, social isolation, significant life change like separation, divorce or death of relative or friend, or even a partner’s pregnancy or the birth of a baby.
Internal factors may relate to a genetic predisposition, imbalance in brain chemistry, other health problems or hormonal disturbance like in the andropause.
TAKE AWAY MESSAGE
Depression in men is common. It is an illness, not a weakness and men should not feel ashamed to seek help. It is important to seek help early, to avoid major problems like suicidal behavior as with the right treatment, most men recover from depression.
Many men experience “depression without sadness,” which makes it more difficult for relatives and friends to notice or even for doctors to make the diagnosis.
Depressed men are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol to seek relief from the pain of depressive feelings. This can make it difficult to determine whether a problem is specifically alcohol or drug-related or whether it is primarily depression.