Signs of depression in men are more difficult to detect then they are in women. Rarely do men come in my office saying " I think I have signs of depression". Women are much more likely to do so. In fact women will often know the kind of depression they have and be able to describe it in the diagnostic terms. Men will present with a variety of other symptoms. Stress at work, loss of interest in life, problems in their relationships, addiction behaviors, or just describing a feeling of being unsatisfied.
Men are also more likely to admit to the physical signs of depression than the feelings component. This is not a deliberate attempt to be deceptive to those around them. It comes from a deep need to resist thinking of themselves as weak or defective in some way. It is much more acceptable for a women to feel this way.
Some men have a typical more easily identifiable depression and some don’t. Just like signs of depression are different in women and children, signs of depression in men are unique and sometimes difficult to identify.
Signs of depression in men are more often missed. Several studies have shown that signs of depression go undetected by the man himself and the loved ones around him. Obviously this is because men are more likely to resist expressing their feelings, and also labeling themselves as depressed. It’s also due to their symptoms of depression masquerading as disruptive and undesirable behaviors.
Typical signs of depression in men include disruption in sleep, loss of interest in activities they were previously interested in., feelings of hopelessness, despair and negative thoughts about themselves and the world. Work often becomes more challenging and their performance declines. They are tired exhausted and it requires exhaustive effort for them to get through the day.
Feelings of Anger and pessimistic outlook on life which lead to blaming and lashing out behavior
Men often become more pessimistic and angry about themselves and their capabilities then women. The world around them becomes a unhappy and unrewarding place, and they will behave towards their friends and family in a more irritable and angry way. One of the signs of depression in men is to lash out and blame others. This, unfortunately, makes it hard for people to recognize that a man is depressed. When someone is criticizing and blaming you all the time it is difficult to see through that to the hurt behind it. When women are depressed they show sadness, and those around them may feel compassionate for them. Angry depressed men, however, often make those around them angry.They also may become moody, and because they are so preoccupied with themselves, appear more selfish. The signs of depression in men very often look more like bad behaviors.
In fact men who are depressed are often just unlikeable. They act in ways that push the people that love them away rather than draw people to them. They are often negative, critical, hostile, and argumentative. They aren’t fun to be around. They aren’t themselves. One of the signs of depression in men is that they become a less likable form of themselves.
It becomes very hard to generate empathy and compassion for them. This is why it frequently goes undetected and untreated. Men may lose their relationships, their jobs, and spin into addictive and destructive behavior without ever understanding the condition underlying it is depression.
Feelings of restlessness, dissatisfaction and agitation which can lead to destructive attempts to stimulate boredom or escape
When men are depressed they become physically and mentally uncomfortable. Rather than being introspective, most men men are avoidant. They frequently minimize their feelings. In some cases this can be strength. If they are slightly depressed or anxious, for example, they are less likely than women to focus on this. They are more likely to successfully move past it, let things roll off their backs, because they don’t give it too much attention. In the case of more serious depression, however, ignoring and avoiding their feelings often leads to greater troubles.
Men have difficulty tolerating these uncomfortable emotional states caused by their depression and they will often seek relief by getting into trouble or trying to stimulate themselves into happiness. They may act out sexually, begin to drink or gamble , or develop other addictions.
Because men are less likely to be aware of and able to communicate their feelings, they are more resistant to uncomfortable feeling states. Their method of coping with depression includes more avoidance and escape behaviors. One of the telltale signs of depression in men is an increase in these behaviors.
Self blame and resistance to the state which creates anxiety and a greater sense of isolation
Men are more likely than women to blame themselves for feeling badly and to get distressed when they realize they feel badly about feeling this way. This creates anxiety and can create a mental behavior called rumination. Rumination consists of a pattern of thinking that you are solving a problem when you are not. It become obsessive can interrupt sleep and cause a tremendous amount of anxiety. For men the thought pattern looks like this:
"Being depressed and feeling badly is a terrible intolerable thing.I must be bad and defective in some way to have these issues.What did I do to cause this? What am I being punished for? Why am I so inadequate?"
The problem with rumination is you aren’t actually solving a problem. If you are depressed you aren’t to blame and you aren’t being punished. You are not inadequate and you haven’t done anything to cause it. Engaging in this kind of thought pattern is destructive and unproductive. This exacerbates the depression and also can create an additional state of anxiety.
Problems in relationships, withdrawn and non communicative behavior, and a decrease or increase in sexual behavior
When people feel badly about themselves, it is more difficult for them to maintain relationships communicate your internal state, and feel sexually connected to your partner. Men in particular are often at a disadvantage when it comes to these skills . It doesn’t come as naturally to them to communicate their feelings and they often have to work harder at this aspect of relationships than women. When they become depressed, they lose their energy and confidence and the effort to be successful at these things decreases.
Of course this set s up a vicious cycle! They become withdrawn and less communicative and make their partners angry and resentful. In fact, this can and often does result in divorce or other serious problems in the marriage. Although often men who are depressed my experience a decrease in sex drive, they may also begin to engage in reckless sexual behavior or sex outside of their relationship because they are seeking some kind of stimulation or excitement.
If you are wondering if you or a man your love might suffering from depression check out this list of some symptoms and signs of depression in men below.
Wexler, David (2006). Is He Depressed or What? What to do When the Man you Love is Irritable Moody and Withdrawn. Chicago: New Habinger Publications, Oakland.
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