Symptoms of Depression in men can go undetected.
It is commonly thought that men are socialised to hold their emotions in check so as not to look weak and “unmanly”. Yet emotions and the ability to feel makes us human. It brings the best of us to others as we express not only what we think, and in what we do, but also in what we feel. Emotions are a way for us to have a sort of thermometer to indicate to us what is going on deep within us. When our emotional life is in a state of constant turmoil and aggravation, the clinical signs of depression can surface. Depression in men can be difficult to detect.
As men may find it difficult to express just how despondent and despairing they are feeling (as in when they are in the grip of depression), they may not signal or seek for help at the early stages of depression. They may not themselves recognise the start of the downward spiral of mood. Added to this, is the uncommonly known symptoms that characterise depression in men. In addition to the typical symptoms of depression, low mood more days than not, change in appetite, impacted sleeping, gripping thoughts of low self worth, guilt, shame, loss of pleasure, thoughts of self-harm and suicide, there are some additional symptoms to look for in men.
Depressive symptoms in men include:
- Increased irritability, anger and interpersonal sensitivity
- Physical symptoms – headaches, body pains, impacted sexual functioning and libido, digestive difficulties
- Increased risky or self-harm behaviour: Substance use, reckless driving, aggressive sport playing inducing injuries, risky sexual behaviour
Men are far more unlikely to seek help for their mental health. Being aware of the risk factors for men, knowing the complete picture of depression in men can help with early detection, and awareness that could make the difference.
What you can do:
- Affirm their experience without trying to solve or fix things. Listening is a powerful affirmation of someone’s experience and offers the hope that they will not be judged as being weak.
- Read some material together, exploring the commonalities of other men’s experiences and recognising the experience of your friend or loved one as being common to many.
- Offer to be there for the next step – making an appointment with your family doctor.
- Make sure you have support for yourself as well.
Be sure to read some of our blogs on Men’s mental health.
Valerie Ling, MClin Psych, BA(Hons), MAPS, Clinical Psychologist has a passion for helping people find their voice and continue to write their life’s story. Committed to prevent burnout and empowering individuals to life an effective life, she is the Director and Founder of The Centre For Effective Living.