Depression is a very difficult, painful and disruptive disorder for everyone who suffers from it. Depression can make you feel consistently sad, unable to enjoy life, exhausted, and make general day to day activities feel impossible. Depressed people also have difficulty making decisions, have sleep difficulties and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
It is nearly impossible to get through each day. Although it is believed that just as many men suffer from depression as women, more women seek help than men, and more women are diagnosed with depression each year.
So what about depression causes women to seek help and men to withdraw? Scientists believe that it has something to do with the fact that men are generally more competitive than women. Men do not like to admit they need help, and therefore do not seek help for symptoms of depression, believing they can power through or deal with it on their own. Men are less likely to talk about their emotions with other people, making them far less likely to see a therapist.
Men can also have different symptoms of depression than women. The following are some symptoms of depression that are more unique to men than women.
- Anger and irritability: While women generally become more withdrawn and weepy, depression in men can manifest itself in irritability and anger.
- Aggression and loss of control: Again, while women are more passive in their depressive symptoms, men often tend to deal with depression and depressive symptoms by getting angry and aggressive. Men get mad at their difficulties with depression, often taking out their aggression on objects or even other people. This can be a big problem at work and in personal relationships. Along with anger and irritability, aggression and loss of control can ostracize men from their coworkers and family.
- Greater risk taking: When depressed, men are more likely to take dangerous risks with their lives that they many not otherwise take. This may come from an underlying desire to get rid of the symptoms in any way possible, including self-harm or suicide.
- Drug and alcohol use: Although many women also turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate depressive symptoms, it is far more common in men. Although often used simply to mask symptoms and feel better, this can also be tied to greater risk taking as men may begin to heavily use alcohol or try/abuse drugs that they would not otherwise use.
- Focusing on work to the exclusion of personal relationships: Men tend to withdraw into their work, sometimes working extra overtime or ignoring other aspects of their lives. Work becomes a way to ignore the feelings and problems that they are having. However, this is also a way to become more isolated from friends and family
- Suicide: Men are three times more likely to attempt and successfully commit suicide then are women. This means that any signs of suicidal ideation should be taken especially seriously in men. Men are also more likely to comitt suicide if they are self-medicating with drugs or alcohol.
Just like women, men have certain factors that are associated with and linked to depression. Some issues may make men especially prone to a bout of depression. Troubles in intimate and home relationships are the most common problem associated with men with depression. Men often try to avoid disagreements while women will wish to talk about the problem. Especially when a man is depressed, dealing with issues in a relationship may make men turn inward and try to avoid the problem. This can create great stress in relationships and cause or worsen symptoms of depression in men. Related to intimate relationships are problems with sex. Difficulty getting an erection can cause men to become depressed. When men are depressed they can ignore and avoid sex completely, especially if this problem is a precursor to their depression. In addition, can reduce or eliminate sex drive. Alternately, some men become addicted to sex when they are depressed, possibly using sex as a way to feel better and self-medicate their symptoms. Another issue that is highly associated with depression in men is unemployment. Even today, men still take their roles as providers very seriously. Unemployment, for any reason, can be especially stressful for men and will often lead to depression.