Women and men both experience depression; however, depression will be different for both. Therefore, when depression occurs in men, it may be masked by unhealthy coping behaviors. Further, many cases of depression in men go undiagnosed for various reasons, including stigma, lack of knowledge, and lack of awareness.
If your depression goes undiagnosed, it can perpetuate symptoms and lead to damaging consequences. The good news is, depression symptoms improve with treatment. Let’s look at how depression differs in men, how you can identify the signs and symptoms, and what you can do to get the proper care.
Signs and Symptoms of Male Depression
Since signs and symptoms of depression differ in men, men tend to use different coping skills to manage their symptoms. Some of these skills are healthy, and others are unhealthy. While it is not clear why men might experience depression differently, it likely involves brain chemistry, hormones, and life experiences. Therefore, some of their behaviors could be signs of depression but go unrecognized. Such signs could include:
- Escapist behavior such as distracting yourself with working longer or watching television
- Symptoms such as headaches, digestive disorders, and body aches
- Using substances to manage feelings
- Controlling or violent behavior
- Risky behavior such as reckless driving
While these signs could suggest depression, they could overlap with other underlying mental health issues or be associated with medical conditions. If you are displaying any signs of depression or unhealthy behaviors, it is a good indication to seek professional help.
Why Male Depression Goes Undiagnosed
While you might experience symptoms of depression, it still might go undiagnosed. Here are some reasons why depression often goes untreated:
- Failure to recognize depression: You might be confused about depression because you identify the main symptom of depression with sadness. However, for men, this is not the primary symptom. Men tend to experience headaches, digestive problems, tiredness, irritability, or long-term pain. Additionally, feeling isolated or seeking distraction to avoid coping with feelings or relationships is another sign that you might be experiencing depression.
- Downplaying signs and symptoms: You might not recognize how much your symptoms affect you; therefore, you may not want to admit to others that you are feeling depressed. However, ignoring, suppressing, or masking your depression with unhealthy behavior will only worsen your condition.
- Reluctance to discuss depression symptoms: You may not be open to discussing your feelings with family, friends, doctors, or mental health professionals. You might also tend to use self-control, or you might think that it is not “masculine” to express your feelings and emotions associated with depression and try to suppress them.
- Resisting mental health treatment: Even if you think you have depression, you may avoid diagnosis or resent treatment. You might neglect seeking help because you worry that the stigma of depression could hinder your job or cause family and friends to lose trust in you.
Getting Help for Depression
Asking for help can be hard for men. However, without treatment, your depression is unlikely to go away on its own. It may actually worsen your condition or lead to developing a serious substance use dependency. Untreated depression can also interfere with your relationships and cause much strain to your friends and family. It can also interfere with other elements of your life, including your professional life and the quality of your life.
Seeking professional care can help ease symptoms and offer you effective ways to cope when you experience depression. Therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are great ways to address the root of your depressions. It is also effective in helping you better process and manage a range of emotions that help with coping, rather than always resorting to anger or isolation.
If you are scared or reluctant to seek help with a treatment center, you can first discuss your mental health with your doctor. Your doctor can provide the safe space needed for you to admit you’re depressed, and they can help point you in the right direction to seek care.
How to Cope
Treatment, such as therapy or medication, will help you combat depression. Therapy also offers you great coping techniques that help restore the relationship between yourself and others. You will also learn methods that you can continue to develop after treatment or therapy sessions. Other great coping skills include:
- Setting reasonable goals: Setting goals helps keep you motivated, focused, and prioritized on daily tasks and your health.
- Support: Seeking emotional support from friends, family, or peers helps you strengthen bonds and keep you involved in healthy social activities.
- Healthy schedule: Much like setting goals, having a healthy schedule allows you to maintain focus on making positive lifestyle choices that promote exercise, good nutrition, and rest.
While men might experience and deal with depression differently, depression can still be effectively treated. If you are currently struggling to overcome or recognize the signs of depression, and are developing negative habits, then the time to seek help is now. At Choice House, we provide a safe, secure, and comfortable space for men to open up and develop their emotional range. Our treatment and therapy programs provide you with options and resources that will work to meet your individual needs. Our priority is to restore your relationship with yourself and others and to raise awareness that men can successfully treat mental health issues. We also provide a space that will help you confront and face challenges similar to the challenges you face in the real world; therefore, you will have the foundational resilience to manage your emotions in a healthy way. To learn more, reach out to us today by calling (720) 577-4422.