Triggers for Depression in Men- There’s no single cause of depression in men. Biological, psychological, and social factors all play a part, as do lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills. Stressful life events or anything that makes you feel useless, helpless, alone, profoundly sad, or overwhelmed by stress can also trigger depression in men. These could include:
- Overwhelming stress at work, school, or home
- Marital or relationship problems
- Not reaching important goals
- Losing or changing a job; embarking on military service
- Constant money problems
- Health problems such as chronic illness, injury, disability
- Recently quitting smoking
- Death of a loved one
- Family responsibilities such as caring for children, spouse, or aging parents
- Retirement; loss of independence
Unfortunately, men are far less adept at recognizing their symptoms than women. A man is more likely to deny his feelings, hide them from himself and others, or try to mask them with other behaviors. Men are also likely to blame others for their mood and behaviors. The three most common signs of depression in men are: Physical pain. Sometimes depression in men shows up as physical symptoms—such as backache, frequent headaches, sleep problems, sexual dysfunction, or digestive disorders.
Men can experience depression in different ways to women. You may develop the standard symptoms of depression and become sad and withdrawn, losing interest in friends and activities you used to enjoy. Or you may become irritable and aggressive, compulsively working, drinking more than normal, and engaging in high risk activities.
Anger- This could range from irritability, sensitivity to criticism, or a loss of your sense of humor to road rage, a short temper, or even violence. Some men become abusive, controlling, verbally or physically abusive to wives, children, or other loved ones. Reckless behavior- A man suffering from depression may start exhibiting escapist or risky behavior. This could mean pursuing dangerous sports, driving recklessly, or engaging in unsafe sex. You might compulsively engage in behaviors such as:
- Alcohol or Drug Use
- Pornography or Sex
A man’s response to depression can result in significant harm to his most important relationships. He may become distant from his wife, girlfriend, family, and friends. A man’s anger and aggression toward loved ones may even result in separation or divorce.
What to do
Treatment is the same for men and women — talking with a counselor about what’s going on, taking medication for symptoms, or both. Lifestyle changes are extremely effective tools at treating depression in men as well. Lifestyle changes can help lift depression and keep it from coming back.
- Exercise regularly
- Eat well
- Get enough sleep
- Reduce stress
- Allow friends and family to help you
Adapted from: Harvard Health Publications. Recognizing Depression in Men. http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/recognizing-depression-in-men Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A. and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D . Depression in Men. http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-in-men.htm