Symptoms Of Depression In Men: What To Watch Out For
Updated July 10, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly L Brownridge , LPC, NCC, BCPC Counsel The Mind, LLC
Although depression tends to include some common symptoms, not everyone may experience depression the same way. For example, the symptoms of depression in some men may not be the same as those experienced by some women.
Although depression does not discriminate based on gender (as millions of Americans are coping with this mental health issue), men may experience some different symptoms than women. The good news is that you can receive the help that you need to recover from depression once you recognize the signs.
If you are a male who believes you may have depression, let’s take a look at some of the symptoms of depression in men to understand better what your personal experience may look like (and how you can treat it once it is recognized and diagnosed).
Symptoms of Depression in Men: How Does It Differ From Depression in Women?
Before we dive deeper into the varying depressive experience for men, it is essential to evaluate depression as a whole, what forms of depression there are, and how each of them may impact your mental health differently. If you believe you may have depression, here is more information on what depression is and the signs.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that impacts our ability to function in our day-to-day lives and fills those affected with feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and helplessness (along with physical manifestations of these emotional symptoms). The severity of your depression will vary depending upon the type of depression itself and how it impacts your mental health, which we will cover further in the section below.
What Types of Depression Are There?
The most commonly referenced form of depression is major depressive disorder, which will often last several months and feature the typical symptoms of depression throughout the episode, for which symptoms can range from mild to severe. However, major depressive disorder is not the only type of mood disorder that can impact your mental health. Some other notable forms of depression include:
- Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia): Persistent depressive disorder, also known as Dysthymic Disorder or dysthymia, is a long-term form of depression that can last for two years or more and features low-grade depressive symptoms. Those experiencing this type of depression may not notice any significant changes to their mental health. Most are still able to function while dealing with their minor (yet quite impactful) symptoms. This type of depression in men may also be difficult to diagnose if a male is not actively seeking help for their symptoms or does not believe that they are struggling with their mental health.
- Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression): Bipolar disorder is often associated with the manic highs that someone experiences when diagnosed (although there are other forms of bipolar disorder). This mood disorder is typically accompanied by periods of extremely low moods that meet the criteria of major depression and have a detrimental impact on mental health. Because bipolar disorder can act far differently from other forms of depression in men, they must look out for the symptoms of bipolar disorder and seek immediate help if they believe they may have it. If the symptoms are severe enough, hospitalization to preserve mental health may be necessary, and a suicide prevention plan should be in place. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 and is available 24 hours every day.
- Psychotic Depression: Sometimes, mental health can be impacted by coexisting disorders, such as psychotic depression. In those with psychotic depression, symptoms of severe depression are accompanied by delusions or hallucinations associated with psychotic episodes. As it is with these severe forms of depression, having a suicide prevention plan and a current course of treatment is essential so that the individual dealing with the disorder does not feel helpless when coping with their symptoms.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Aptly named, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that often manifests during the winter months when there is less sunlight. The good news is that this type of depression will generally end by spring once the sun comes back out, and life returns to normal. While this may not seem as serious as other forms of depression on this list, it can still impact your mental health and is still very important to recognize.
Although you may not experience all of the forms of depression, it is essential to know which kinds of depression are out there. You must be able to recognize which type you may have, how it impacts your mental health, how you can focus on treatment and suicide prevention, and how you can move forward from here.
What Are the Symptoms of Depression?
In general, the symptoms you may experience when dealing with a depressive episode are mostly similar across all depressive disorders (except those that feature other mental health disorders in them). Some of the most common symptoms of depression include:
- A feeling of hopelessness, helplessness, and sadness that impacts the individual with depression for most of the duration of the depressive episode
- Feeling anxious, empty, or numb
- Feeling guilty or worthless and having low self-esteem
- Low energy and fatigue
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Trouble eating or eating too much
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating
- Slower movements and speech
- Agitation and irritability
- Low or no interest in activities that previously interested the individual with depression
- Aches and pains throughout the body that have no cause and are resistant against traditional treatment methods
- Suicidal thoughts and actions (if you believe that you are at risk of committing suicide, you must reach out for help immediately and develop a suicide prevention plan for any future depressive episodes. As mentioned earlier, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255, and is available 24 hours every day.)
Now that we’ve tackled some of the main symptoms of depression and how they can impact someone’s mental health let’s look at how these symptoms match up with depression symptoms in men.
How Is Depression in Men Different From Depression in Women?
Mental health issues such as depression will often manifest differently in different genders due to several varying factors. While there is no apparent cause behind these different experiences, men may uniquely deal with depression because of variables such as hormones, societal expectations, genes, or environmental stress. As a result, depression may not be as clearly seen or diagnosed for men as it is for women.
Some of the most common symptoms of depression in men include:
- Men will often express more aggressive behaviors and become irritable and angry when dealing with this mental health disorder. This behavior may also lead to males becoming controlling or violent in their relationships with others.
- As it is with depression, men may noticeably withdraw from people and activities that once brought pleasure to them, which can often be easier to see from the outside. Isolation is often one of the main symptoms of depression in men and may clarify a mental health disorder.
- Depression in men may manifest in physical symptoms such as an inability to perform sexually or a less active sex drive, which can be frustrating to those affected.
- Men may engage in more risky coping mechanisms to deal with the mental health disorder, such as drinking more, using drugs, engaging in risky or unprotected sex, or gambling, to name a few.
While this is a relatively short list of symptoms that can be unique to the male experience, it is important to note that these symptoms are often accompanied by the symptoms of depression provided in the previous section. These symptoms are merely some of the most common within males that will reveal mental health disorders like depression in men. Additionally, like the symptoms above, men may not experience all of these symptoms when dealing with depression. These are simply some of the most prominent warning signs to look out for if you believe that you may be dealing with depression.
What to Do If You Notice Some of These Symptoms of Depression in Men
If you believe that any of the symptoms above are impacting your mental health, the good news is that you are not alone, and treatment is always available to help you get through this difficult time.
The most critical first step to take for your mental health if you believe you are dealing with depression is to realize that it’s okay you feel this way. It’s important to note that you shouldn’t blame yourself. Face your feelings (instead of avoiding them), so that you can then seek treatment. The next crucial step is to reach out to a counselor. A licensed counselor can help you work through your mental health disorder symptoms, provide you with valuable coping mechanisms, and give you the support you need as you work through your depression. Although traditional face-to-face counseling is one effective option to consider, online counseling can also be an effective way to deal with your depression symptoms.
For example, BetterHelp is an online counseling resource that allows you to easily connect with licensed counselors online, from the comfort and privacy of your own home. If you have limited resources in your area, have a busy schedule, or simply want to receive counseling from your home, BetterHelp can be an excellent resource to improve your mental health.
Additionally, you may supplement talk therapy with medication to help you return to a more stable mood as you work through the symptoms of depression. Remember, if you are currently dealing with suicidal thoughts and believe that you may be at risk of harming yourself, it is important that you reach out to an emergency suicide prevention resource to get the immediate help that you need. Although things can seem negative at the moment, there is always hope for the future.
While mental health disorders like depression come with a set of symptoms to look out for, not all symptoms present themselves in the same way across different individuals. As you’ve seen above, the symptoms of depression in men may look different than they would in women. If you are a male who has related to some of the symptoms and descriptions provided above, it’s important you realize that you are not alone. You can reach out for help at any time.