Different Signs of Depression and Men
Depression and men occurs an estimated six million times in the United States every year. Although the symptoms of depression are highly treatable, many men do not recognize, acknowledge, or seek help for their depressive symptoms. While both men and women may develop typical signs of depression, they often experience depression differently and may have different ways of coping with depression. Men and depression may show different signs and symptoms compared to women.
For example, depression and men may show more fatigue, irritability, loss of interest in work or hobbies, and sleep disturbances rather than feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and excessive guilt, which are also commonly associated with depression. Also, tragically, four times as many men as women commit suicide, even though women make more suicide attempts during their lives. Thus, depression and men tends to be more fatal. Unfortunately, many of these men never receive any form of treatment related to depression. The fact is, depression is real and treatable. Depressive disorders can strike at any age, from childhood into late life. With proper diagnosis and treatment, the vast majority of men suffering from depression can be helped.
What makes depression different from the blues?
Depression is a behavioral health condition that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It affects how you eat and sleep. It alters your self-perception. Depression changes the way you think and feel. People with depression can’t just “snap out of it” or “pull themselves together,” because depression is not just a passing mood. Left untreated, depression can last for weeks, months, or years and in some cases can be fatal.
Depression can make routine tasks unbearably difficult. Pleasures that make life worth living, like watching a football game, playing with children, even making love, can be drained of joy. Depression brings pain and disruption not only to the person who has it, but also to his family and others who care about him.
If you are experiencing some of the following symptoms, you may be experiencing depression. Ask yourself if you are feeling: sad or “empty”; irritable or angry; guilty or worthless; pessimistic or hopeless; tired or “slowed down”; restless or agitated; like no one cares about you; or like life is not worth living. You may also: sleep more or less than usual; eat more or less than usual; have persistent headaches, stomachaches or chronic pain; have trouble concentrating, remembering things or making decisions; lose interest in work or hobbies; or lose interest in sex.
Major depression can cause severe impairment in social and physical functioning, including inability to work or carry out daily tasks. Severe depression can lead to suicide and is considered a potentially fatal illness. An estimated 15 percent of people hospitalized for depression eventually take their own lives. These rates are highest for depression and men. If these symptoms are familiar, and you are thinking about depression, it’s time to ask for help.
Risk Factors for Depression:
About six million men in the U.S. suffer from depression every year
Studies show that people who experienced emotional, physical, or sexual abuse or assault are more likely to experience depressive episodes at some time in their lives than those without such a history.
There are other causes of depression and men related to growing up in dysfunctional families, such as living with a parent who was an alcoholic, physically or emotionally abusive, or a parent with a mental illness.
Loss of a Loved One
Sooner or later, we all experience the loss of loved ones and loss is a risk factor for depression. About 800,000 persons are widowed each year. Most of them experience varying degrees of grief. However, a third of widows/widowers do meet criteria for major depressive episode in the first month after the death, and half of these remain clinically depressed one year later. Loss is a risk factor for depression and men.
Loss of economic status, job loss, and those in lower economic status experience many stresses, including isolation, uncertainty, frequent negative events, and limited access to helpful resources. Sadness and low morale are common in depression. Financial stress tends to weigh heavy on males who view themselves as the primary breadwinners and hence may be more susceptible to depression and men.
Research shows that one out of three depressed people also suffer from some form of substance abuse or dependence. Among people who abuse alcohol and/or drugs, depression is very frequent. Hence, substance abuse increases the risk for depression and men.
Treatment for Depression and Men
Depression is a common and highly treatable disorder. The most commonly used treatments for depression are psychotherapy, antidepressant medications, or a combination of the two. Both treatments have been proven to be effective in reducing depression and in chronic, severe or incapacitating depression, combined treatment is often the best. Once identified, depression can almost always be successfully treated by psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. If this combination has not worked, however, it is probably time to try a more intensive treatment program to treat your depression.
Where Treatment for Depression & Men Occurs
Whether the type of treatment is psychotherapy and/or medication, most mental health therapy depression occurs on an outpatient basis. Hospitalization is now reserved for only the most severe, unsafe cases. This has resulted in a significant gap between traditional outpatient therapy, which usually occurs for one hour per week, and the 24 hour care provided in the hospital. Fortunately, there are now Intensive Outpatient Programs that have proven to be effective in the treatment of severe, chronic or debilitating depression.
These programs provide services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an outpatient setting. Mental Health Resources specializes in providing an Intensive Outpatient Program for Depression. Call now to schedule an assessment to determine if our program can help you.
Ask for Help
The feelings and behaviors that are symptoms of depression can hinder a person’s ability to seek help. In addition, men in particular may find it difficult to admit that they feel depressed and to ask for help. It’s important to remember, however, that depression is a real, treatable and is nothing to be ashamed about.