It’s said that depression affects women more than it does men, but men and women experience depression equally. It’s just that their willingness to discuss their feelings varies. Men are less likely to seek treatment for depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Societal pressures condition men to be stoic and unemotional, which isn’t exactly conducive to healing, self-awareness and improved mental health. Therefore symptoms of depression manifest differently in men, who aren’t taught to access their emotional library from an early age.
Common Symptoms of Depression
Depression is often associated with extreme sadness, withdrawal and loss of interest, but men who are depressed manifest it differently than women. Depression symptoms that commonly appear in men include:
- Anxiousness, restlessness or feeling “on edge.”
- Loss of interest in family, friends, work or hobbies.
- Sadness and hopelessness.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Extreme fatigue, difficulty sleeping or oversleeping.
- Headaches, body aches or digestive issues.
- Issues with sexual desire and performance.
- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts.
- Difficulty meeting responsibilities related to work, family and other obligations.
- Social isolation.
- Engaging in risky behavior.
- Drug or alcohol abuse.
The Vicious Cycle of Self-Medication
Men are already less likely to seek treatment for mental health, which puts them in a highly vulnerable position. Some will rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms like self-medication with drugs or alcohol to minimize negative, unpleasant emotions.
This can quickly lead to a vicious cycle: substance use temporarily reduces symptoms, but they only end up exacerbating them. A person will try to cover them up with more substance use, and so on.
What Causes Depression?
Depression can affect any many at any age, so it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and be open to seeking encouragement from loved ones and treatment from health care professionals.
There are a few risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing depression:
- Genetic factors, including a family history of depression.
- Environmental factors, such as financial hardships, the death of a loved one, the loss of a relationship, major life changes or any other stressful situation.
- Illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes. Similar to the cycle of self-medicating, depression can worsen these conditions, and vice versa.
Depression Is Manageable
Although the conversation surrounding mental health is shifting, it’s still relatively taboo. However, talking about mental health openly makes it much less mystifying. Depression can be managed and even overcome with an appropriate combination of medication and counseling.
Immersion Recovery Center offers gender-specific addiction and mental health treatment designed for men. Our dynamic programming can help you or someone you love manage mental health symptoms and achieve freedom from addiction. For more information about our services, contact us at 561.419.3349