Men’s Health: Destigmatizing Depression in Men
Learn about Symptoms of Depression, the Most Common Types and How You Can Take Care of Your Mental Wellness
As a society, we’ve come a long way in our cultural beliefs and stereotyping of depression. More and more, people recognize the importance of protecting and caring for their mental health as they would for their physical health. Even so, there continues to be a statistically significant disparity in how men compared to women seek support for behavioral health, especially depression.
We are bringing awareness to depression, specifically how it presents in men, common mental health issues that men face, and how you can take care of your (and your loved ones’) mental health, amidst a busy schedule and life’s obligations.
Understanding Depression Today
Today, depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, and in 2020, men died by suicide 3.88 times more than women. Researchers believe that there is no one cause of depression but that it is a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. While there is more to learn about the cause of depression, our understanding has progressed to the point that effective treatments including psychotherapy and medications have helped thousands of people who have struggled with depression.
Symptoms of Depression in Men
According to The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), men are less likely than women to seek treatment for mental health-related matters. Experts debate the cause for this disparity, some theorizing that it is a result of symptoms presenting differently in men, while others attribute it to characterizations suggesting that those living with mental health illnesses are weaker or inferior.
In order to be diagnosed with depression, an individual will have experienced several of the following symptoms for 2 weeks:
- Feeling sad, hopeless, or empty
- Extreme fatigue
- Difficulty falling asleep or sleeping too much
- Not getting pleasure from activities usually enjoyed
Other behaviors in men that are often signs of depression — but are not widely recognized as such — include:
- Escapist behavior, spending a lot of time at work or on sports
- Physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive problems, and pain
- Reliance on alcohol or drug use
- Decreased libido
- Controlling, violent or abusive behavior
- Irritability or inappropriate anger
- Risky behavior, such as reckless driving
Additionally, While not a cause of depression, harmful societal rhetoric like “real men don’t cry” or “man up” impedes men who have depression to open up about their mental health issues and seek treatment.
What Are the Common Types of Depression?
- Major depression: depressive symptoms that interfere with one’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy most aspects of life. An episode of major depression may occur only once in a person’s lifetime. But it is common for a person to have several episodes.
Men with depression may feel very tired and lose interest in work, family, or hobbies. They may be more likely to have difficulty sleeping than women who have depression. Sometimes mental health symptoms appear to be physical issues. For example, a racing heart, tightening chest, ongoing headaches, or digestive issues can be signs of a mental health problem. Many men are more likely to see their doctor about physical symptoms than emotional symptoms.
(source: National Institute of Mental Health).
Subtypes of major depression include:
- Psychotic depression: severe depression associated with delusions (false, fixed beliefs) or hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that are not really there).
- Seasonal affective disorder: characterized by depression symptoms that appear every year during the winter months when there is less natural sunlight.
- Persistent depressive disorder (also called dysthymia): depressive symptoms that last a long time (2 years or longer) but are less severe than those of major depression.
- Minor depression: similar to major depression and persistent depressive disorder, but symptoms are less severe and may not last as long.
How You Can Take Care of Your Mental Health
- Prioritize your mental health–the rest of the areas in your life will suffer until you do.
- Talk about your mental health with people that care about you, chances are, they can relate to what you are experiencing
- Enlist the help of a trusted medical professional.
At The Health Center, we specialize in treating every patient as an individual and create personalized action plans for addressing your unique mental health needs. Your primary care doctor works with the psychologists on staff to create a holistic health plan tailored to your specific needs.
For more information on The Health Center at Hudson Yards, visit our website or call us at 646.819.5100.
If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, call the Lifeline network, available 24/7, at 1.800.273.8255.
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