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How Do men Experience Depression?

A man can experience depression in many different ways. He may be grumpy or irritable, or have lost his sense of humor. He might drink too much or abuse drugs. It may be that he physically or verbally abuses his wife and his kids. He might work all the time, or compulsively seek thrills in high risk behavior. Or, he may seem isolated, withdrawn, and no longer interested in the people or activities he used to enjoy.

Perhaps this man sounds like you. If so, it is important to understand that it may be depression that is underlying these feelings and behaviors. It’s real: scientists have developed sensitive imaging devices that enable us to see depression in the brain. And it’s treatable: more than 80 percent of those suffering from depression respond to existing treatments, and new ones are continually becoming available and helping more people. Talk to a healthcare provider about how you are feeling, and ask for help.

Or perhaps this man sound like someone you care about. Try to talk to him, or to someone who has a chance of getting through to him. Help him to understand that depression is a common illness among men and is nothing to be ashamed about. Encourage him to see a doctor and get an evaluation for depression.

For most men with depression, life doesn’t have to be so dark and hopeless. Life is hard enough as it is; and treating depression can free up vital resources to cope with life’s challenges effectively. When a man is depressed, he’s not the only one who suffers. His depression also darkens the lives of his family, his friends, virtually everyone close to him. Getting him into treatment can send ripples of healing and hope into all of those lives.

Depression is a real illness; it is treatable; and men can have it. It takes courage to ask for help, but help can make all the difference.

Depression is a serious medical condition that affects the body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way one eats and sleeps. It affects how one thinks about things, and one's self perception. A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition one can will or wish away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely “pull themselves together” and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. However, appropriate treatment, often involving medication and/or short term psychotherapy, can help most people who suffer from depression.

Depression can strike anyone regardless of age, ethnic background, socioeconomic status, or gender. However, large scale research studies have found that depression is about twice as common in women as in men. In the United States, researchers estimate that in any given one year period, depressive illnesses affect 12 percent of women (more than 12 million women) and nearly 7 percent of men (more than six million men). But important questions remain to be answered about the causes underlying this gender difference. We still do not know if depression is truly less common among men, or if men are just less likely than women to recognize, acknowledge, and seek help for depression.

In focus groups conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to assess depression awareness, men described their own symptoms of depression without realizing that they were depressed. Notably, many were unaware that “physical” symptoms, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain, can be associated with depression. In addition, men were concerned that seeing a mental health professional or going to a mental health clinic would have a negative impact at work if their employer or colleagues found out. They feared that being labeled with a diagnosis of mental illness would cost them the respect of their family and friends, or their standing in the community.


Men: Depression and Bipolar Disorder: