The good news is that depression, even at its most severe, is treatable. The bad news is that many people with depression – particularly men never seek treatment. And left untreated, depression can worsen, and lead to other behaviors in men that aren't often recognized as depression. October is National Depression Awareness Month, so it's a good time for men to learn more about the unique ways depression can affect them.
Women and men tend to experience depression differently. Women are more likely to experience feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and excessive guilt, while men are more likely to be very tired, irritable, lose interest in activities, and have sleep difficulties. In fact, many men don't believe they are depressed because they don't feel sad. That's why it's so important to recognize other common symptoms of depression in men including:
- Spending more time working in order to escape family, social, or other responsibilities
- Inability to concentrate or make decisions
- Increased stress, or inability to deal with normal levels of stress
- Back, stomach, or other chronic and unexplained pain
- Increased alcohol consumption
- Experimenting with or abusing drugs
- Inappropriate anger or hostility
- Engaging in risky behavior, such as reckless driving or extreme sports
- Abusive or violet behavior
Depression causes pain to the men who suffer as well and the people who care about them. Left untreated, depression and inappropriate coping behaviors can even threaten the lifestyle and safety of them and their families.
If you or someone you love is experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, seek professional help. Contact your physician or mental health provider.
To learn more about depression and men, visit the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) or the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) websites.
This article first appeared in the October 2014 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.