Depression (major depression)
Male depression: Understanding the issues
Male depression: Understanding the issues
Male depression is a serious medical condition, but many men try to ignore it or refuse treatment. See what's behind this so that you can move toward healthy changes.
Are you irritable, isolated and withdrawn? Do you find yourself working all the time, drinking too much alcohol, using illicit drugs or seeking thrills from risky activities?
If so, perhaps you're being chased by what Winston Churchill called his "black dog" — male depression. Churchill attempted to ward off his black dog of male depression with compulsive overwork and excessive drinking. For male depression, the coping strategies — unhealthy ones — may be reckless driving, risky sex or shutting yourself off from the world.
But none of these can keep male depression at bay for long. Even worse: When you have male depression, you're also at an increased risk of suicide.
The issues behind male depression
Depression affects about 6 million men and 12 million women in America each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. But the big difference in these numbers may not tell the whole story.
While it may seem as if men are less affected by depression, that assumption may not be entirely true. Researchers are trying to understand how and why male depression may be different from female depression, and any implications for treatment. Although the issues remain open to debate and uncertainty, they include the possibilities that:
Male depression may go undiagnosed
Male depression may not be as widely recognized as female depression, and therefore men with depression may go undiagnosed. These reasons may include:
Male depression symptoms
Whether it's because of hormones, brain chemicals or coping methods, some evidence suggests that you may experience depression differently from how a woman does.
Signs and symptoms more likely to occur with male depression include:
Having these kinds of symptoms can make it more difficult to link them to depression, making diagnosis and treatment harder.
Male depression and suicide
Although women attempt suicide more often than men do, men are more likely to complete suicide. Older white men are at the greatest risk of suicide.
Men may be more likely to complete suicide because:
When you have suicidal thoughts
Male depression and coping skills
Like other men, you may feel that your depression symptoms aren't severe. You may believe that you should be able to just get over them or tough them out. You may try to deny depression symptoms, ignore them or blunt them by drinking too much alcohol, taking illicit drugs or working longer hours.
But these kinds of attempts at coping with male depression will likely just leave you chronically unhappy and miserable, and possibly at risk of losing your life.
It takes effort to practice healthy coping skills rather than automatically turning to alcohol, speeding or frequent sex. Treatment with a doctor or mental health provider can help you learn healthy coping skills. These may include:
Many effective treatments are available for depression. So don't try to tough out male depression on your own. The consequences may be devastating.
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