The rates of anxiety and depression in men are likely to be under-estimated because men are less likely to report psychiatric symptoms. Men tend to deny having problems because they are supposed to “be strong.” Our American culture suggests that “real men” don’t express emotions. As a result, depression in men or anxious are more likely to talk about the physical symptoms, such as feeling tired, rather than symptoms related to depression or anxiety. Men also tend to experience depressive and anxiety symptoms differently than women. Men are more likely to be irritable, angry, feel guilty, worthless or inadequate, and feel like they like have let their loved ones down. Don’t be fooled by these feelings of frustration. Because men tend to “bottle up” their feelings, they may also develop more physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach aches, or pain complaints. Or, they may try to avoid their feelings by engaging in risky behavior, like dangerous sports, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, and risky sex, which are ways of saying “I don’t care what happens to me” or “I am not afraid of anything”. Men also experience the more common symptoms of anxiety and depression that include loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities, fatigue, and other physical symptoms such as changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, and apathy. Depression in men is also sensitive because they tend to have trouble talking about a lack of sexual interest, or if they do, attribute to physical changes, rather than acknowledging that loss of sexual interest could be the result of depression. Subsequently treatment for depression in men and outpatient depression programs are under utilized by men.
If you think depression in men isn’t a serious problem, consider that men in the U.S. are about four times more likely than women to commit suicide. A staggering 75% to 80% of all people who commit suicide in the U.S. are men. Though more women attempt suicide, more men are successful at actually ending their lives. This may be due to the fact that depression in men may result in the use more lethal methods of committing suicide, for example using a gun rather than taking an overdose of pills. It may also be related to the fact that depression in men experience more cultural pressures to not talk about what their feelings and believe that help is not available for them. Subsequently, men are less likely to call a psychiatrist or seek other forms of outpatient treatment programs for depression or anxiety.
If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan that can result in recovery. Treatment for anxiety or depression in men can be highly successful. If you are in or around Memphis, TN, call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.