It is estimated that depression affects around 17 million American adults or about 7% of the US population aged 18 or over. Depression can affect people from all walks of life. However, as we remove the stigma around mental health and ask for help, there are still struggles in some demographics, especially when it comes to gender.
Men are far more likely to ignore the signs of depression and may be less adept at recognizing the symptoms of depression, making it that much harder to get the support that they need. So, let’s dive into the symptoms of depression, and why men might be more likely to ignore them.
Signs of Depression in Men
A lot of the time, the symptoms of depression in men can be a little different, as men often focus on physical symptoms rather than emotional ones. Men with depression are more likely to suffer from headaches, backaches, sleep issues, and digestive problems, or they may struggle with sexual dysfunction.
Men may also be more angry, irritable, and may have a short temper, become more controlling, or resort to violence. They can also become reckless and start pursuing dangerous activities or act compulsively. Other common symptoms are:
- Feeling hopeless and helpless
- Losing interest in normal activities or things that they enjoy
- Overeating or under-eating
- Feeling agitated
- Interrupted sleep or oversleeping
- Inability to concentrate
- Negative thoughts
- Suicidal thoughts
Why Are Men More Likely to Ignore Signs of Depression?
In many cases, men with depression are more likely to deny feelings or try to mask them with other behaviors. This could be because there is a stigma around men and mental health, and males often try to behave in a way that is considered strong, masculine, and powerful rather than weak or vulnerable.
Men often like to think of themselves as in control of their emotions and strong, whereas depression can make us feel emotionally weak. In addition, men tend to struggle to talk about their feelings and will therefore not be forthcoming with expressing emotions or speaking to a therapist.
The National Institute of Mental Health states that mental illness is less prevalent in men, and men are less likely to seek or receive treatment than women. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that men do not have mental illness as much as women, but they are less likely to disclose that they are struggling.
The main issue for this is that the social norm is that men are reluctant to talk about their emotions as it can make them feel emasculated or vulnerable when they would rather be seen as a symbol of strength and toughness.
Instead, men may choose to mask their struggles and deny their feelings.
However, ignoring symptoms of depression, repressing feelings, and refusing treatment can only lead to mental illness worsening over time, which can have disastrous results.
How to Cope with Depression
Men suffering from depression are up to four times more likely to take their own lives than women. It is paramount that if you are suffering from depression, especially if you’re having suicidal thoughts, that you seek help. You don’t have to continue suffering, especially alone. There’s no shame in asking for help.
It is essential that we break the stigma around men’s mental health. Talk to someone you trust, such as a friend or loved one, or even your doctor about your struggles and feelings.
You should also seek support and guidance from a counselor or therapist for treatment, as they can offer you the tools and resources to cope with your depression and help you begin moving forward.