Depression in Men, what do research and experts say regarding this topic?
Expression of Depression in Men
While women usually tend to internalize their depression by focusing on emotional issues like blaming themselves or feeling worthless, men tend to externalize it, focusing on their physical ones: they experience sleeping problems, complain about headaches, exhaustion and fatigue or aching muscles, joint pain and back pain. As an important characteristic, men do not show openly their emotions or express verbally that they feel sad. Instead, they feel numb and complain or become irritable and angry.
Stigma is Attached to Depression in Men
Men generally have a difficult time dealing with the stigma of depression. Consequently, they are more likely to deal with their symptoms by abusing alcohol and drugs as well as practicing risky behaviour. As research has shown, men use more drugs and alcohol, thus masking the signs and symptoms of depression. One of the reasons for this behaviour is that they may possibly want to self-medicate.
Given that for many men it is difficult to admit to be experiencing depressive symptoms, this conduct will directly impact how they will or will not seek help.
How Men Seek Help when they are Depressed
Men are less likely than women to seek help for any mental health issue but more specifically for depression.
Barriers and reasons why men do not seek help may include:
- Personal values and beliefs
- Feelings of weakness and vulnerability, which they are felt as unmanly if they admit having feelings of despair.
According to Dr. Borenstein, the President of the Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation in New York… “there is that sense that they should be in control of their emotions and that being depressed can be viewed as a sign of weakness… Men are expected to handle problems on their own.”
- Feelings of shame
- Sense of failure
- According to Dr. Pelusi, a Manhattan clinical psychologist. “For men, [depression] is a signal that they are a failure and are submitting to defeat.” Consequently, “… that sense of defeat is why depressed men typically withdraw and isolate,” states Dr. Malone, Chairman of Psychiatry and Psychology at the Cleveland Clinic.
- Denial that they are experiencing a problem
- Difficulty surrendering control
Impact of Men with Depression and their Relationships
Many men evade talking about their feelings of depression to friends or family, this can cause a lot of damage on their close relationships such as their spouses, partners, friends and colleagues. “The male response to depression is to push away, which can lead a partner to feel helpless and alone” says Dr. Troxel, a psychologist and Senior Behavioural and Social Scientist at the RAND Corporation (Research and Development, an American non-profit global policy in Pennsylvania)
Men, Depression and Suicide
The rates of depression are highest in men who:
- are single
- are socially isolated
- are medically ill
- display alcohol or substance abusive behaviour
The highest suicide rate for men is between the ages of 20 and 40 years old, due in part to substance use and abuse as well as impulsive behaviour in younger men. Nonetheless, the highest suicide rate of any age group is that of men who are 65 year old and over, as some research studies demonstrate.
Depression, Male Sexual Desire and Performance
Depression in men usually affects their sexual desire and performance. To make matters worse, men tend to interpret that this is the result of problems related to their virility and not to their depressive mood. Regrettably, antidepressants do have an impact on their sexual desire and performance.
What Do I Need to do if I am Depressed?
Do not delay in asking for help if you are feeling depressed. Research has shown that the sooner you get treatment, the better it is. Your symptoms will be relieved quicker and the treatment will not be as long. Thus, try to call your doctor or contact a mental health professional and make an appointment immediately. Different treatments are available, such as medication or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy [CBT]. Act now!
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