Male Depression: How Men Experience it Differently Than Women
Sometimes the most difficult conversations with friends are the most important ones. Recently, I pulled a friend aside and asked him about his ongoing struggle with anger. Over the last few months, he had lost his job and separated from his wife due to uncontrollable rage. As a mental health professional, I am trained to see the underlying issues behind the symptom. My friend needed professional help. Even though he had a hard time admitting it, my friend’s anger was an expression of a deeper struggle with depression.
Men experience depression differently than women. While women may experience depression as a deep sadness, men typically experience depression as anger, loss of sexual drive, and engaging in risky behavior. Even though depression effects a large number of men, men are less likely to seek professional help. This is due to the fact that men believe talking with someone about their mental health is sign of weakness. Men also fail to recognize the symptoms of depression or downplay the severity of their struggle. Since men are less likely to get the help they need, depression can often have a devastating impact on their work and relationships.
What is Depression?
Doesn’t everyone get sad or angry from time to time? Don’t most people struggle with motivation or sleep once in a while? While most men may struggle with a few symptoms of depression from time to time, these symptoms usually pass after a few days. Depression is a common but serious mood disorder that results in severe symptoms. For a man to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder or clinical depression, his symptoms need to last at least two weeks. They also need to significantly impact his ability to work, sleep and enjoy important aspects of his life. Different men have different symptoms, but many common symptoms include:
- Anger, irritability, aggressiveness
- Escapist behavior, such as spending more time at work or the bar
- Problems with sexual desire and performance
- Feeling extremely tired most of the time
- Overeating or loss of appetite
- Physical aches and pains, headaches, or problems with digestion
- Engaging in risky behavior
- Abuse of alcohol, drugs or other addictive behavior (e.g., pornography).
What Causes Depression in Men?
Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders in the United States. Depression is typically a result of several risk factors including:
- Family History: Men with a family history of depression are more likely to struggle with depression than men who do not have depression in their genetic history.
- Stress: A stressful situation can trigger depression in a man’s life. Common stress triggers for men include: relationship problems, loss of a loved one, divorce and issues at work.
- Illness: Sometimes depression and serious medical issues go hand and hand. It is common for men to experience depression while diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. It is possible that medications taken to treat these diseases may worsen the depression.
5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Depression
Seek Professional Help
Depression is a serious mood disorder. Left untreated, depression can lead to damaging effects in your personal and professional life. The first step to treating depression is seeking professional help from a psychiatrist or mental health professional. Seeking help from a trained professional is a sign of strength not weakness.
Find a Support System
It’s important you feel emotionally supported by friends and loved ones when you are struggling with depression. Find time to connect with your partner, join a men’s group or talk to a friend who will encourage you and hold you accountable.
Learn Coping Skills
There are plenty of apps and online videos that can help you manage your stress. Learning coping skills is essential for managing depression. Learning how to meditate or deescalate when you are angry can help reduce the severity of your symptoms.
Maintain a weekly exercise routine. The combination of moderate exercise and exposure to sunlight can help improve your mood and fight off the negative effects of depression.
Delay Making Important Decisions
Wait to make life changing decisions like switching a job or getting divorced until after your depression symptoms have improved. You want to be at your best mental health state when you are making decisions that will have a long term impact on you and your loved ones.
Counseling Can Help
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help men find relief from depression and its symptoms. CBT for depression is one of the most widely used therapeutic treatments for depression. The main focus of using CBT is to help identify and address the distorted thoughts that are causing the negative emotions in your body. During CBT your therapist will help you set treatment goals and teach you new ways to think about the things that are causing you to feel distressed. Then they will teach you new behavioral skills to help you cope with these feelings in a more productive way. The therapists at the Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch are trained in working with men and the mental health issues that may arise for this population.
It’s time to let go of the stigma of therapy. Many men find relief and build coping skills that can last a lifetime when they seek out professional help. Please do not hesitate to reach out today and call for help!
Other Services at the Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch
Our counseling services at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch include counseling for children and adolescents dealing with depression, self-injury, and school issues. We also provide services for family therapy, counseling for young adults, trauma counseling, anxiety treatment, couples counseling, eating disorder treatment, and group counseling. Our therapists strive to regularly post blogs with helpful information on a variety of mental health topics. To learn more about our therapists and our counseling services, please reach out to the Center today!