Many men are afraid to let people know about their depression because men are expected to be tough with their feelings. According to Health.com, over five million men suffer with depression in the United States. It is important for men to have the courage to admit that they have depression so that they can do something about it to be happy again.
Men having depression can be less obvious compared to women. Women are expected to be emotional and more comfortable expressing it. Men, on the other hand, are expected to be angry when they are upset or to shrug it off instead of confessing their inner sadness. The symptoms for depression in men may be more subtler than women but it is important that you recognize them. When typical people get sad such as if you get into a fight with your spouse and say hurtful things to each other, you may be upset for a day and then get over it when you wake up. When you are depressed, you could be sad for weeks or months. This can interfere with your work and your relationships if you cannot enjoy even life’s simplest happy moments.
Another sign of depression in men is that women may cry a lot when they are depressed. Men, on the other hand, do not want to show tears in front of others as it can threaten their masculinity. Instead, they will throw things, yell, or hurt others emotionally or physically as a coping mechanism. Society will view these kind of emotions as normal in men since they are known to be more aggressive than devastated. If this kind of anger comes out of nowhere, it can mean that they are holding in a lot of sadness and they are afraid to show it. Men also tend to exhibit reckless behavior when they are depressed so that they can show they are being a man. For example, someone depressed could challenge someone to a car race and have no thought or care of anything bad happening to them. They do not want to appear as weak so they will do a “manly” activity to prove to others that their sadness will not get in the way of their masculinity.
Men who are depressed also tend to have drug or alcohol problems. Your body naturally produces serotonin which are the feel-good chemicals that make you happy. Depression can prevent those feel-good chemicals from coming into being. Men may feel like the only way to be happy is by using a drug that will create those feelings for them that they have been missing. According to Dr. John Greden, MD of the University of Michigan, 20-25% of men who are depressed have drinking problems as they do not want to lose those positive emotions. The truth is that drinking increases your lack of sleep and anger. It can actually make your depression worse as the feel-good moments that come from alcohol are only temporary.
Stanford University also says that 75% of men who are depressed have a low libido. Depression can impair the limbic system which controls your appetite, sleep, energy, and sex drive. Certain antidepressants like Prozac and Lexapro can cause a delay in ejaculation or testosterone. Weight loss can also be a sign of depression in men where they have changed their diet or not exercising so much. It could be that the joys of food are just not enough anymore to eat. Weight gain can be another sign where depressed men may not want to get out of bed and go to the gym or they do not think about what they are eating. They could care less if they eat too much junk food or large portions as they do not care much anymore of their health.
Finding someone that you can talk to who will not judge you and is willing to hear you out will not make you less of a man. Instead of hitting or throwing things, use your words to express your emotions. There is also nothing like spending some in-person time with your loved ones instead of texting or calling them. If you are not able to see that person, try Facetiming them or Skyping so that you can see the face of the one you trust. It will be better for that person to see through your facial expressions as well as your voice how you are feeling. Do not be afraid to attend social events so that you can spend time with your friends and meet new ones. These will be the moments that you cherish and will make you happy.
Helping others will also help you as you will feel more at use doing things like volunteering at a soup kitchen, an animal shelter, tutoring children, etc. You should also make sure to get plenty of sleep of at least seven to eight hours as well as exercising, relaxation techniques like yoga, and figuring out where your stress is coming from so you can think of solutions. Common triggers of depression in men include loneliness, alcohol or drug history, early trauma or abuse, or aging. Look for these signs of depression and seek professional help so that you can learn to be happy again. If you or anyone else you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-272-TALK.
Located in Tacoma, Washington, Bayview Center’s mission is to offer clinically-driven programs and services to treat a number of substance abuse disorders along with anxiety and depression using cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, trauma therapy, yoga therapy, and more for a successful recovery. For more information, please call us 1-888-570-7154 at as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.