The Male Perspective – Differences Of Depression Symptoms In Men

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated September 15, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Content Warning: Please be advised, that the below article mentions topics related to suicide that could be triggering to the reader. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Many people experience depression at some point in their lives, yet depression isn’t always easy to recognize. That’s especially true because the symptoms of depression in men are often different from those of women. 

If you’re depressed, you might have any of the symptoms of depression. However, men tend to exhibit somewhat different indications of depression than women. Let’s examine the signs of depression in men.

iStock/Ivan Pantic
Depression Looks Different In Men

What Are The Symptoms Of Depression In Men?

The following symptoms often happen during depression in men:

  • Anger
  • Aggressive Behavior
  • Irritability

There are other symptoms that are prevalent in men as well.

Restlessness Or Feeling On Edge

You might feel restless during a depressive episode. You may have the sense that you need to get up and move around, even when you need to stay where you are. Or, you might feel on edge, as if you need to prepare yourself for something terrible that’s right around the corner.

Loss Of Interest In Things You Once Enjoyed

Men experiencing the symptoms of depression often lose interest in their work, even if they were once delighted with their job. You might also lose interest in family life or anything else you once found pleasurable.

Sexual Problems

If you’re a man having trouble with your sexual performance, the problem could very well be depression. You might not even have the desire for sex that had been typical for you. In either case, it’s understandable that you would want to get beyond your depression so you can regain a healthy sex life.

Alcohol Or Substance Use Issues

Men experiencing depression may self-medicate with alcohol or illegal drugs. Usually, this begins before the depression takes hold, but it can continue and increase as the depression worsens.

Making High-Risk Choices

Men often take big chances when they’re feeling depressed. They may do something physically dangerous, like driving too fast on the freeway. They might gamble with money they need for themselves or to help support their family. Another example of high-risk behavior is having sexual affairs, or having a lot of unprotected sex.

Withdrawing From Others

Depression in men often involves withdrawing from others. Men may isolate themselves from others when they’re depressed. Perhaps that’s due to a societal trend for parents to teach their boys to solve problems on their own. While this trend may be changing, it still affects many men today.


Physical Ailments

Depression in men often takes the form of physical complaints. You may feel your heart racing, have tightness in your chest, experience digestive problems, or notice frequent aches and pains. You might go to your primary physician with these health issues and find that either they can’t identify the cause, or nothing they do seems to help.

Difficulty Sleeping

Sleep problems are common in depression in men and women. For men, the trouble is usually that they have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep.

What Are Depression Symptoms For Men And Women?

In addition to the symptoms that are more prevalent in men, you might also have signs that are common in both men and women. Such symptoms include:

  • Feeling anxious: Anxiety is associated with depression for many people. It’s a feeling of nervousness, unwarranted fear, or worry about the future.
  • Troubles with concentration and memory: Both genders may have a hard time concentrating while they’re depressed. They may have memory problems, as well, especially in remembering details.
  • Feeling sad, empty, or hopeless: These feelings are usually a part of a depressive disorder, but not always. 

For a diagnosis of depression, your mental health expert would look for a range of reported symptoms, which can be experienced by both men and women to different extents.

How Are Women’s Symptoms Of Depression Different?

Some women’s symptoms of depression are similar to men’s symptoms. Women are more likely to have disordered eating along with their depression, for instance. They may also be more likely to oversleep or overeat than men.

In a 2015 article, Paul R. Albert, Ph.D., reported that, globally, 5.5% of women experienced depression each year, while only 3.2% of men had depression in a year. Albert suggested that the difference could be the different things that trigger depression in men and women.

For example, women may be more sensitive to interpersonal relationship issues, while men seem to be more affected by situations related to their careers and goals.

Hormonal changes can also impact a woman’s mental health and well-being. For example, a woman could have pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder or postpartum depression at a time when her hormones are in flux. The irregularity of female hormone release may play a role in other forms of depression, too.

Additional evidence points to women having a different response to stress. When there’s a death in the family, their relationship is rocky, or they lose their job, they may think and behave in ways that make the stressful feelings last longer. One way they might do this is by ruminating or dwelling on upsetting events or situations. They can engage in negative self-talk and blame themselves for what happened. Depression in men usually doesn’t include a tendency to ruminate, and that may be one reason that sometimes men can appear to get past stressful events more quickly.

But men do have depression, too. The cause may be partly genetic, as it might be for women. For men, the triggers for depression may include financial problems, life changes, trouble at work or losing a job, or some type of underlying illness.

The Severity Of Depression Symptoms In Men And Women

The severity of symptoms often differs between men and women. The difference may be partly because men often avoid seeking help or don’t realize they’re experiencing depression. Even if they go to a healthcare professional, a physician might not be able to detect the depression at the root of physical symptoms. So, men’s symptoms may become extremely severe before they talk to a mental health professional, while women might seek help during an earlier, milder phase.

Sometimes people with depression think about or attempt suicide. According to reports by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the age-adjusted suicide rate in 2020 was 13.48 per 100,000 individuals, with the rate of suicide highest among middle-aged white men. White males accounted for nearly 70% of suicide deaths in 2021, and firearms accounted for over half of all suicide deaths. 

While many suicide attempts go unreported, reports suggest that women try to take their own lives 1.5x more often than men, but men may be more likely to succeed in the attempt (based on their methods of ending their own lives). This difference might go back in part to the fact that men wait so long to get treatment.

*If you or a loved one are experiencing thoughts of suicide, you can receive immediate crisis support by calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988. They are available 24/7.

It’s hard to say precisely why women might seek treatment more often than men. It may have to do with cultural differences. Or, it might have more to do with the fact that symptoms in men can be so much harder to recognize. Men may have symptoms that don’t show up as the sadness or hopelessness so often associated with depression. Men’s symptoms may look more like anger issues, substance use problems, or recklessness. That’s why it’s so vital that you learn to identify any symptoms you’re having and realize if they could be indicators of depression.

How Can Men Overcome Depression?

iStock/Kobus Louw
Depression Looks Different In Men

If you’re a man who recognizes some of these symptoms in yourself, talking to an online therapist can be helpful in many ways. They can assess your condition and recommend treatments. During therapy, they can teach you new ways to cope with stress, help you learn how to change negative thought patterns, and show you how to avoid aggressive or risky behaviors.

Online therapy is an effective method for treating symptoms of depression. Many therapists may elect to use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as a means of helping men identify the challenges in their lives and carve an empowering path forward. In a recent study analyzing the potential of internet-based CBT in treating various psychiatric disorders, researchers found that traditional CBT methods were more time-consuming and expensive and accompanied by higher dropout rates than online CBT.

Many men find it hard to even think about seeking mental health help. You might believe you need to handle your mental health problems on your own, especially if you’re someone who is usually very independent. It’s okay to have feelings of doubt at any point during your journey to seek treatment. Many people do vacillate some when beginning therapy. But the benefits of treatment for depression in men far outweigh the discomfort you might feel. 

One of the benefits of online therapy is that men can schedule appointments from the comfort of their own home or office space – this provides reassurance that they won’t cross paths with anyone they know. This may be advantageous for men who view seeking help as a weakness. Online therapy appointments can also be scheduled on your own time, so men can easily book a session when they feel best able to engage and participate.

Depression shows up differently in men than it does in women, often disguised by symptoms that hide the root issue. Talking to a therapist might not be as hard as you imagine. By talking with a licensed counselor at BetterHelp, you can have therapy in an intimate setting that you choose. With the proper treatment, your symptoms of depression can decrease, you can get your life back on track, and you can enjoy your life again.


When a male loved one is showing signs of depression, one of the most important things you can do to help is to listen empathetically and offer your support. If they don’t recognize that these symptoms are related to depression, you might point them to information on depression symptoms in men. 

You might need some help and support yourself, as well. An online counselor can help you understand what your loved one is going through and how you can be there for them. They might also suggest ways for you to stay mentally healthy during this difficult time.

Depression is treatable, and you're not alone

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