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Understanding Depression in Men – Symptoms and Causes


Traditionally, American men have always projected the ultimate masculine persona – a male who is tough, dependable, and in control of his life. Expressing emotions and being human has never been a part of the macho man facade.

For this very reason, men have held their feelings in check. You’ll never hear of depression in men, simply because they are so adept at hiding the fact that they are sad, upset, and anxious about some situation in their lives.

According to the American Psychological Association, at least 9% of men are depressed. However, only a fourth of them ever look for help. Another alarming fact is that the suicide rate among men is four times higher as compared to women.

Don’t We live in the Age of the Metrosexual Male?

Yes, we do! Things are changing. In today’s times, you’ll find more and more metrosexual men – guys who opt for flexible working hours so they can spend more time with their kids.

You’ll also hear of the new class of stay-at-home dads who have opted to raise families conceding that their wives made more money. In such a scenario, depression and suicides in men seems unlikely. You might think that men would be more open about their fears and looking for help. But, unfortunately, that is not the case.

Symptoms of Depression in Men are Different – Physical Symptoms

Despite changing times, depression in men manifests itself in other symptoms and signs. Women are likely to brood, cry, and withdraw into themselves. Men, on the other hand, project their feelings in other ways. Here are some of the physical symptoms.

  • Insomnia and disturbed sleep
  • Frequent headaches
  • Issues with digestion
  • Inability to perform sexually
  • Back pain and body aches
  • Excessive weight gain

Men May Display Changes in Behavior

Many men mask their sadness and anxiety by “acting up.” They may change into people you hardly recognize anymore. Here are the typical behavioral symptoms:

  • Losing interest in work or the normal activities he loves
  • Difficulty in concentration on a particular task
  • Fatigue and inability to manage everyday tasks
  • Extreme anger at the slightest issue
  • Engaging in unsafe sex with strange, inappropriate partners
  • Drinking and smoking excessively or taking up substance abuse
  • Physically and verbally violent behavior
  • Reckless driving and engaging in dangerous sports
  • Compulsive gambling

Why Depression in Men Occurs – How to Help Them

Various factors can result in depression in men. These causes can range from psychological, social, or even, biological. By understanding the causes, it may be easier to find solutions for them.

Biological or Medical Issues

The most common reason why men experience the signs of depression may be related to lowered levels of the hormone testosterone (T). As men cross the age of 35, levels of testosterone start to drop in their bodies. Interestingly, most of the symptoms of depression are similar to those of lowered T levels.

As the doctors at BHRC, the center for hormone replacement treatment for men advise, “Hormone imbalances can be corrected with the help of plant-based or bio-identical supplements that are similar to the kind produced in the body. Once the skewed levels are restored, men may notice an improvement in both, physical and mental health.”

In addition to lowered testosterone levels, severe injuries and chronic illnesses that result in pain and perhaps, disability can lead to anxiety. Quitting smoking sets off a series of withdrawal symptoms in the body that can also lead to depression. Expert medical practitioners can advise on the proper course of treatment including medication that can correct the problem.

Troubling Life Situations

Various life situations that are beyond conscious control can result in depression. For instance, being drafted for military service or the death of a loved one. Having to take on responsibilities for the care of aging relatives, a child, or even an ailing family member can add to the stress of day-to-day living.

Issues in a personal relationship or marriage that might lead to a bad divorce or breakup can make men anxious and depressed. If these stressful life situations cannot be avoided, a good solution is to seek counseling from professional consultants. Asking for help from friends and sharing duties can also relieve some of the stress.

Career Aspirations

Stress in the workplace is often the cause for depression in men. They may find that they’re unable to make ends meets or they aren’t happy with the career path they’ve chosen. Many men have certain goals and objectives that they find that they cannot achieve and end up feeling sad and dissatisfied with life.

Retirement from work and suddenly having lots of time on their hands can also lead to depression. Men facing these issues must seek the advice of a career counselor who can help them explore their talents and capabilities. Sometimes, choosing a different career can bring higher salaries or better job satisfaction.

Making Lifestyle Changes can Relieve Depression

By changing lifestyles and making sensible choices, it may be easier to let go of the stress and get back good health. Here are some of them:

  • Exercising releases the feel-good hormone serotonin that lifts mood and acts as an antidepressant. Just 30 minutes of any physical activity each day can help.
  • Sign up for a new hobby or game with a close friend. The distraction, company of friends, and interesting conversation can help keep away anxiety.
  • Adopt healthy eating habits by including more of organic foods that are free of chemicals. Several foods like spinach, bananas, flaxseed, walnuts, and fish containing Omega-3 rich fatty acids are natural mood boosters so eating more of them can lift the depression. Eliminating alcohol and caffeine also helps restore psychological health.
  • Vitamin deficiencies can also lead to anxiety. Check with your doctor for supplements.
  • Get adequate sleep to keep down levels of stress causing cortisol hormones.
  • Spend time outdoors and soak up the sunshine and fresh air.
  • Take up meditation, yoga, deep breathing, relaxation techniques, and other stress busters.

If the condition goes unnoticed, depression in men can lead to severe consequences. If you’ve been feeling any of the symptoms listed above or if you noticed a loved one displaying these signs, go ahead and take action.

Help yourself or your friend take control of the situations that are worrying. Keep away depression and get back your physical and psychological health.