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12 Signs of Depression in Men

Clinical depression—in women or men—can cause sadness and a loss of interest in once pleasurable activities. But depression can sometimes manifest in different ways in different people.

Here are 12 signs of depression in men.

12 Signs of Depression in Men

Fatigue

People who are depressed undergo a series of physical and emotional changes. They can experience fatigue, as well as psychomotor retardation, or a slowing down of physical movements, speech, and thought processes.

Men are more likely than women to report fatigue and other physical symptoms of depression as their chief complaints.

Sleeping too much or too little

Sleep problems—such as insomnia, waking up very early in the morning, or excessive sleeping—are common depression symptoms.

Like fatigue, sleep troubles are one of the main symptoms that depressed men may discuss with their doctor, experts say.

Stomachache or a backache

Health problems such as constipation or diarrhea, as well as headaches and back pain, are common in people who are depressed.

But men often don’t realize that chronic pain and digestive disorders go hand in hand with depression, according to focus groups conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health. People who are depressed do genuinely feel bad physically.

Irritability

Instead of seeming down, men who are depressed often show signs of irritability. If they talk about an emotional component, it could be sadness with irritability.

Men will report feeling irritable because they are having negative thoughts constantly.

Difficulty concentrating

Psychomotor retardation can slow down a man’s ability to process information, thereby impairing concentration on work or other tasks.

Depression fills one with negative thoughts, almost like an intrusion. You’re slowed down and constantly thinking about negative things in your world. As a result, it makes it very difficult to focus on anything.

Anger or hostility

Some men manifest depression by being hostile, angry, or aggressive. A man who realizes something is wrong may need to compensate by demonstrating that he is still strong or capable.

Anger and hostility are different than irritability. Anger tends to be a stronger emotion.

Men become hostile when they have withdrawn as a result of their depression and feel under pressure by friends or family to rejoin society.

Stress

Men might be more likely to report symptoms of depression as stress. It’s not that they have more stress; it’s that it’s more socially acceptable to report it.

Stress and depression can also travel a two-way street. It’s accurate to say that feeling stressed can be an indicator of having clinical depression but also be part of the cause.

Research has shown that prolonged exposure to stress can lead to changes both in the body and brain which can, in turn, lead to depression.

Anxiety

Research has shown a strong link between anxiety disorders and depression.

Men may be no more likely than women to experience anxiety—in fact, anxiety disorders are about twice as prevalent in women—but it’s often easier for men to talk about feeling anxious rather than sad.

Men may discuss concerns about work and whether the loss of a job will impede their ability to provide for themselves and their family. It may be easier to put words to worries and fears.

Substance abuse

Substance abuse frequently accompanies depression. Research has shown that alcoholics are almost twice as likely to suffer from major depression as people without a drinking problem.

It can happen for both men and women, but using drugs or alcohol to mask uncomfortable feelings is a strategy many men will employ instead of seeking health care.

There’s a cultural bias of, ‘I should be able to fix this myself and so I’ll use what chemicals I have available to me to do that'”

Sexual dysfunction

Depression is a common reason for a loss of desire and erectile dysfunction (ED), and it’s one symptom that men are inclined not to report. Performance problems can come from depression and make depression worse.

However, ED can be the result of other medical conditions or medications (including antidepressants), and ED by itself does not signal depression.

Indecision

Some people naturally have a hard time making decisions, so an inability to make choices is usually worrisome only if it’s a new behavior.

It’s an information-processing issue, and depression slows down your ability to decide.

Suicidal thoughts

Women are more likely to attempt suicide, but men are more than four times as likely to die if they do attempt suicide. One reason is that men tend to choose more lethal methods. They more often use firearms and kill themselves the first time they try.

Older men are at highest risk for suicide, and doctors may miss depression symptoms in this group. In fact, more than 70% of older suicide victims saw their primary care physician within the month of their death.

Depression is not a normal part of aging in men or women.

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