How to Spot Male Depression Symptoms

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Men and women experience depression in gender specific ways. This is at least partly due to how our culture tells us to behave and the roles men and women have. It is also partially a result of actual biological differences between the sexes, although scientists are still teasing out just what those may be. However, the end result is the same – generally, men show different symptoms of depression than women do.

This doesn’t mean that the underlying problem is different or that the feelings aren’t similar – the contrast comes in the expression of those feelings.

Irritability and anger

The feelings of stress and anxiety, coupled with an inability to deal with the feelings can emerge as inappropriate hostility. This comes out as anger and irritation over minor events. An explosive rage isn’t specific to depression and may result from any sudden release of contained emotion and poor coping skills. In depression, the irritation and anger is more repetitive and doesn’t have to be as extreme.

Sometimes the level of anger can reach violent or abusive levels. This is one consequence of untreated depression in males, a very serious and unfortunate consequence. The other side of the same coin is controlling behavior – when other areas of life seem out of control, some men will bear down on the person closest to them and try to gain authority there.

Withdrawal

Withdrawal is common in many mood disorders. Women and men may fall prey to this. In men, however, it may actually show up, not as a withdrawal from the world, but an inappropriate immersion into some facet of life that is under their control. So, for example, a man may be showing a symptom of depression if they bury themselves in their work and avoid other areas of their life that are causing emotional pain. This type of withdrawal is called escapist behavior.

Other kinds of withdrawal include an emotional withdrawal – female partners will complain that the man has “grown cold.” They may avoid things that once gave them pleasure, choosing to forgo the activity because it is likely to disappoint. This includes sex.

Escapism

Similar to withdrawal, an escape is an activity that is practiced to avoid situations where depression is felt the most. There are many types of escape: drugs and alcohol; sleep; work; sports; gambling and other addictions… almost anything to excess can be used to escape.

This is particularly troubling when a man tries to avoid his depression with infidelity. The excitement and danger of a new relationship becomes a type of escape that only ends up leading to many more difficulties than before.

Risky behavior

This combines escapism with real risk but is very similar. Reckless driving, financial risks (gambling, stock market) and even illegal activities can stimulate adrenalin and artificially provide an emotional boost. The problem, of course, is that the thrill doesn’t last and the depression reemerges.

Men are both harder to diagnose with depression and harder to treat. Part of the problem is the difficulty in admitting there is a real medical issue, one worth treatment. Men are less likely to recognize depression in themselves, less likely to communicate their feelings to others, and more likely to feel stigmatized by a diagnosis of depression. But without treatment, men are also more likely to commit suicide.

 
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