Symptoms of Depression in Men

For most men, depression feels like failure instead of a highly treatable medical condition. Consequently, few men seek help when they feel depressed. The cost of untreated depression is high—health, families and careers are the common casualties of this serious illness. When depressed men do go to their doctor it is generally for vague physical symptoms—and not concerns about their emotional health. To make matters worse, doctors are much less likely to diagnose depression in men than women. Symptoms of depression in men are likely to be dismissed as “stress related” or resulting from a medical condition.
Symptoms of Depression in Men

Symptoms of Depression in Men

Approximately 15 percent of people with depression commit suicide. Though more women are diagnosed with depression than men, and more women attempt suicide, the suicide rate among men is 4 times higher. Men are more likely than women to use highly lethal means such as firearms when they attempt. The suicide rate for men increases as they age, and is more likely after the age of 70. New studies show that although depression is associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease in both men and women, depressed men are much more likely to die from heart disease than depressed women.

In men, depression is often masked by the abuse of alcohol or drugs, or by working excessively long hours. Anger, irritability and aggression are common symptoms because they are more socially acceptable than sadness or crying—particularly in the workplace.

Symptoms of depression in men are characterized by the following:

  • a persistent sad mood every day or nearly every day
  • anger, mood swings and irritability
  • loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed
  • significant change in appetite or body weight
  • difficulty sleeping or oversleeping nearly every day
  • fatigue and loss of energy
  • physical slowing or agitation
  • feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame and self doubt
  • difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • change in interest regarding sex
  • recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

In general, a person who is diagnosed with depression will have 5 or more of the symptoms listed above fairly consistently for more than 2 weeks. However, the symptoms of depression in men are progressive and vary among individuals. Having 1 or 2 of the symptoms of moderate intensity is cause for concern.

Symptoms of Depression in Men: How to help

Encouragement and support from concerned family members can make a huge difference in whether a man feels that he has “permission” to be sick and seek help. In the workplace, worksite mental health programs can increase awareness of this illness, promote available treatment options—and reduce the stigma, which is very high for men.

If you or someone you know seems depressed, don’t wait for it to get any worse—get help now.