What used to be a problem that people wouldn’t admit to has become an issue for conversation at the workplace, on radio talk shows, in movies, and in the public sphere at large. For men, who are often socialized to either bury their feelings or just soldier on through their problems without complaining, there is now unprecedented freedom to acknowledge problems and seek help.
9 Signs of Depression in Men
When you are feeling depressed, you or the people around you may be able to discern what’s going on, especially if there is a drastic behavior change. Some symptoms of depression are subtle, and because depression itself has different types, you should take your concerns and questions to a doctor or mental health professional. Below are a few of the signs of depression to keep an eye out for.
1. Irritability and anger.
If a man isn’t typically the sort to be short with others, but he finds that he is getting increasingly angrier with others, easily irritated by things that didn’t bother him that much, or he finds that he can’t control his anger, that might signal depression. Anger in men can sometimes be masked as a guy being a guy – aggression, unfortunately, is too often associated with men and is considered normal.
Between this, and the fact that anger and irritability can also be symptoms of stress and other mental health challenges, which makes it even more important to consult a mental health professional who can ensure a proper diagnosis that gets down to the bottom of things.
2. Sadness.Depression is a serious but common mood disorder. One of the ways it affects a person is by making them feel sad or lose hope, and that is one of the more recognizable signs of depression. Depression differs from sadness – unlike sadness, depression is a mental illness and not an emotion.
When you are depressed, the feelings you experience will affect every aspect of your life. The sadness that signals depression makes it hard or even impossible to find enjoyment in anything, including activities and people you used to enjoy. While depression may look a lot like sadness, depression lasts much longer than the feelings brought on by typical sadness.
3. Avoidant behavior.
Depression can lead a person into avoidant behavior. One may stop enjoying the things that brought them joy, they can become more isolated from family and other loved ones, turning increasingly to work, for instance, to avoid being with them. In other situations, a person may try to avoid dealing with their reality by turning to or increasing consumption of alcohol and other substances such as drugs.
4. Feeling helpless, worthless, or guilty.
You may feel bad about yourself or your life, or think a lot about any losses or failures you’ve experienced. These feelings can be paralyzing, causing you to feel like nothing you do matters.
When depression makes you feel unwarranted guilt or self-hate, some of the more common recurring thoughts may be articulated as, “It’s all my fault,” or “What’s the point?” You may harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes. Those feelings of worthlessness or guilt can lead to self-loathing.
5. Risky, self-destructive behavior.
In some men, depression may lead them into risky behaviors such as dangerous driving to numb emotional pain or escape their current situation. A man may employ self-destructive behaviors such as unsafe sex, excessive drinking, drug abuse, dangerous sports, compulsive gambling, and cutting to provide temporary relief from feeling intense emotional pain.
6. Suicidal thoughts and attempts.When a person is feeling depressed, they may feel like the only way to escape the pain, isolation, and sadness is by committing suicide. People who die by suicide usually show symptoms first. Often, they will talk about or attempt it before succeeding in ending their life. This can be a challenge for men, because they may be hesitant to speak about their feelings and struggles, and so to make their struggles known.
Additionally, men typically use more lethal means to commit suicide than women, which means that more men succeed in committing suicide than women. If you think you or someone you love may be at risk of self-harm, don’t hesitate to address it by reaching out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or by calling 911.
7. Struggles with sleep.
Depression often comes with an overwhelming feeling of fatigue, and one reason you struggle to find interest in things is that you’re feeling tired. You may find yourself feeling exhausted and fatigued, but still struggle to sleep, but other people find themselves sleeping a lot because they feel tired all the time.
So, either you may find yourself sleeping a whole lot more than you used to, or you’re sleeping far less than you need. The lack of quality sleep can lead to anxiety, more fatigue, and struggles in regulating your emotions. A lack of sleep will also often lead to another symptom of depression, struggles in concentration. This will mean you may have trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
8. Struggles with food and digestion.
With depression, people react differently in how they relate to food. While some people have an increased appetite and gain weight, others won’t be hungry and will lose weight. Wild fluctuations in weight are often associated with depression as eating habits change and a person either overeats or finds themselves lacking an appetite. Another common issue with depression is gastrointestinal distress or cramps.
9. Unexplained aches and pains.
Lastly, one of the signs of depression is the presence of physical symptoms such as headaches, back pain, muscle tension, or body aches that do not have a specific cause and they don’t respond to treatment.
What to do about any signs of depression
It is important to remember that not every man will exhibit each of these signs of depression. While sadness may be one of the symptoms of depression, many men may exhibit other signs such as anger or risky behavior. These are easily masked and can be mistaken for something else, such as a bad reaction to feeling stressed about something, or they can be read as typical “dude behavior.”
If you feel any of these symptoms and are concerned that something may be wrong, don’t hesitate to see a doctor or a mental health professional such as a therapist. If your loved one is exhibiting any of these signs, encourage them to see someone for help. Depression is serious, and the sooner it gets addressed, the better. Just as we ought to take our physical health seriously, mental health ought to be taken just as seriously and problems should be dealt with sooner than later.
Because the symptoms of depression align with other possible conditions, getting a professional to give you a diagnosis can spare you the guesswork and help you find the underlying cause of what’s going on. If you or a man you know struggles with suicidal thoughts or tendencies, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) any time day or night, or go online at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
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