The image of the man as the strong, silent type, while a comforting one to many, is probably the biggest reason that men who suffer from depression tend to suffer in silence, never seeking the correct treatment they need to pull themselves out of the emotional doldrums that weigh on their heart and mind, and very likely also do irreversible damage to their physical health.
You see, the mind-body connection is a very powerful one, and most people don’t realize just how powerful until they experience severe depression and realize that suddenly their body feels fatigued, and they tend to get sick more often. Men who suffer from depression in silence are risking their emotional well being as well as their physical wellness for reasons that range from pride to genuine lack of knowledge about what depression actually is.
It is estimated that up to 60% of the men who suffer a genuine period of depression do not seek the professional or alternative medical help that they need to help restore their mental health. And yet, in contrast, a much higher percentage of women are reported to receive counseling and/or treatment for depression.
A lot of men who have finally “come out” about going through periods of depression in their life cite the fact that they had a fear that people would perceive them as weak and unable to cope with the stressors in their life, especially if they were viewed as the “provider” in the family, or if they held a big corporate job that was viewed with respect.
Men do seem to suffer depression a little differently than women, at least outwardly. The symptoms to look for in men who may be depressed are a sudden rash of lashing out verbally, intolerance for things they usually have a tolerance for, lack of interest in activities they once used to love doing, and an apparent loss of motivation or self confidence.
Since men do not often open up about their feelings (at least this seems to be the norm), or do not actually acknowledge their feelings to themselves, they are much more likely to internalize their depression, which can only make it worse, and can eventually turn a man to suicidal thoughts if left untreated, depending on the severity of the depression.
If you have a loved one who you think may be suffering from depression, and he is either in denial or seems to be afraid to admit that something may be wrong, try to let them know you are open to talking, and that you will not pass judgment in any way on them for opening up about their feelings. You may be surprised at the response you get.
The estimation for the national average of depression in women vs. depression in men differs significantly, but researchers and gatherers of this information are unclear whether it is just diagnosed and treated this much more often in women than in men, or if there is truly a gender discrepancy in the frequency of depression occurrence between men and women.
It is possible that women may naturally be more susceptible to depression and anxiety due to hormonal complications in the body, but at the same time, researchers are not quick to dismiss the fact that men may suffer almost equally, but just don’t get the treatment they need because they fear the societal perception.
In some focus groups conducted, men who were describing symptoms that are commonly associated with clinical depression, such as fatigue, chronic pain, sleeplessness, sleeping too much, irritability and other physical manifestations of depression, were not aware that these symptoms were closely associated to the mental state of depression.
As far as differing levels of depression, men typically are prone to suffer the same forms of depression as women. Those forms are the always-referred to and oft coined “bipolar disorder” which usually is defined by mood swings, and tendencies to do everything to the extreme, with no stable in-between moods to balance things out.
Another is “major depressive disorder” which profoundly affects the person, rendering them virtually powerless as it can affect everything you do, your job, your focus, concentration, and interactions with other people. It can become so severe that one can feel incapacitated by their own mind.
Then, there is another form of depression called “dysthymic disorder” which is not as crippling as major depressive disorder, but may come in waves and varying ranges of severity and temporarily disable one’s ability to feel joy, our God-given birthright, and the reason that we are all here on earth.
This form of depression, if left untreated, can put the patient through rounds of agonizing depression followed by periods of normalcy, so it may be more difficult to nail this one down and diagnose and treat it.