Depression In Men

Symptoms of Depression include:

• Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells.
• Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns.
• Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety.
• Pessimism, indifference.
• Loss of energy, persistent lethargy.
• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness.
• Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness.
• Inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal.
• Unexplained aches and pains.
• Recurring thoughts of death or suicide.
• Loss of interest and enjoyment in life.
• Pervasive “low mood.”
• Decreased interest in sex.

In one person’s words, “A colorful world gone to black and white.”

Experiencing five or more of the symptoms listed above for two weeks or longer indicates a major depressive episode. Experiencing several of the above symptoms in a less acute, but longer duration can indicate the presence of Dysthymia, a chronic, moderate type of depression in which people are able to continue functioning but experience frequent irritability and vulnerability to stress. Recent research studies indicate that among the general population in the United States, 80 % of those with symptoms of depression are not diagnosed and treated. Additionally, new research indicates that depression is often experienced differently in men than in women and that among men, prolonged symptoms in the form of excessive anger, aggression, alcohol & substance use, working or eating excessively, and anti-social behavior can all be indicators of depression.

Risk factors commonly associated with depression include:

• Primary risk : suicide.
• Secondary risks : low functioning, poor school work, poor interpersonal relationships, unhappiness, low productivity, long term self-esteem issues.
• Among men there is a connection between heart disease and depression:
• Men with depression are more than twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease than those who are not depressive.
• Symptoms of heart disease typically occur 15 years after the first episode of depression, suggesting that untreated, depression can have an insidious effect on general health not unlike that of unremitting stress.
• Men with depression have a 71% higher heart-disease risk, and are 2.34 times more likely to die of heart disease than their non-depressed counterparts.

Other facts about depression and men:

• Although 80% of people with depression who have sought help will find relief through therapy or medication (or both, combined), fewer than one in three people who are depressed actually seek help. Because many men grow up believing that depression is primarily a women’s illness, and perhaps a sign of weakness, men are much less likely to admit to depression or to seek help for it than women.
• Men are not as likely to show the typical signs of depression either. They do not usually cry, show sadness, loss of will, or verbalize an intention to hurt themselves. As a result their depression is hidden from those caring friends, family, partner or associate who might insist that they seek help. For this reason, according to unpublished Center for Disease Control reports, men in the U.S.A. are about four times more likely than women to kill themselves via suicide.
• Men who feel like they no longer “measure up”, who feel physically weaker, sense that their outlets for pleasure are reduced, or who have experienced a personal loss are at risk for depression.
• Men who experience the loss of a significant supportive relationship are also at serious risk for depression. This type of loss can be either a romantic relationship or, as is often the case, the loss of a father who has been particularly supportive of them throughout their life.
• Job loss is another trigger for depression, as is physical illness such as cancer, heart disease, and low thyroid function. The link among these that relate to the onset of depression is a feeling of loss in terms of earning potential, virility, strength, control, and self-definition. For example, of the 33,000 people who committed suicide in Japan in 1999, one half was unemployed.
• Age: suicide (the most extreme expression of depression) in men peaks in the 20s and again in the 60s and 70s. Approximately 40% of men in the forty to sixty midlife age ranges will experience some degree of depression. Whereas men complete 20% of all suicides in the U.S.A., the suicide rate triples in midlife men and increases seven times in men over age 65. With a history of depression, the risk of suicide increases substantially.
• Alcoholism, much more common in men than women, leads to suicide in 10% of affected people.
• 50% of adolescent/young males who suicide have issues with sexuality. While this statistic refers principally to questions and concerns about sexual orientation, other alarming statistics for young men on the incidence of sexual trauma (a known pre-cursor of depression) include:
• 12-16 % of college males report being victim to forced sexual contact
• 34-38 % of males under the age of 16 years-old report feeling coerced into unwanted sexual activity. Coercion can assume many forms including the following: alcohol, verbal inducement, social pressure, and physical force with or without the use of a weapon.

Statistics for Depression and Suicide:

• People of all ages, races, ethnicity and social class can experience depression.
• Depression frequently develops between the ages of 25-44.
• 20 million adult Americans experience depression every day.
• Depression affects s many as 1 in 33 children and 1 in 8 adolescents
• Depression is the 9 th leading cause of death in the 19-24 year-old age group.
• There is no difference in frequency of suicide when comparing inpatient and out patient groups.
• Among university students:
• 7.7-8.6 students per 100K will commit suicide.
• Undergraduate males rate: 9.3 per 100K
• Females rate: 3.4 per 100K
• Graduate males rate: 11.6 per 100K
• Females rate: 9.1 per 100K

Note: At higher education levels, suicide incidence actually increases!

• While almost everyone at some time or another meet in their life meet diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder, present statistics indicate that the lifetime rate of depression is 8-15 % for men and 12-24 % for women—based upon cases formally diagnosed and various information resources. These figures seem to be rising, and depression is now more frequently diagnosed in younger people than it was previously. Why is this?
• Generally speaking, there is an increased awareness of symptoms of depression and more public information available regarding treatment, both of which can raise the statistics for actual cases of depression diagnosed.
• In addition, increased social fragmentation, family breakdown, and isolation has been noted over recent decades and linked to high depression rates. Rising divorce rates and falling church attendance also seem to be statistically related to increased incidence of depression and suicide.
• Low socio-economic status can also increase risk for suicide. As the middle class shrinks and more people move into low SES status, rates of suicide increase.
• A history of trauma, including childhood abuse seems to increase vulnerability to depression, due in part to long standing feelings of victimization and helplessness. While rates of abuse are not necessarily on the rise, exposure to trauma via first hand experience of violence or television and news reporting of it is on the rise within American society.
• Among men, the increasing rates of depression and suicide are linked to the changing role of men in society. Specifically,
• Adolescence for men is prolonged, with adulthood and independence occurring at a much later age than in past generations. While as recently as two generations ago men began working at age 14, and 16 one generation ago, now many men are in their 20’s before achieving financial independence.
• Men have a more stressful time in achieving education goals than in the past and are now less successful than women.
• Work is much more competitive now that women populate the job market, and employment is less secure for men.
• Alcohol and drug use and abuse has increased markedly since the middle of the twentieth century, and men continue to be more likely to be users than women.
• In many societies, including our own, expressions of emotions such as sadness, fear, disappointment and regret are viewed as less acceptable for boys than girls. As a consequence, boys mature into men who do not recognize these feeling or deny them as unacceptable. Often the result is inwardly expressed anger that matures into depression.

What can you do to help?

• Pay attention to the other people in your life. Listen to what others say about themselves and what is happening in their lives. If you note changes in behavior or are aware of changing life circumstances, encourage them to talk about it.
• If you have concern for someone that you think is depressed, encourage them to get help.
• Normalize depression as something that everyone can experience at some point in their life—it is not an illness that indicates weakness or femininity.
• Pay attention to how you feel. If you note the presence of symptoms described at the top of this fact sheet, talk to your doctor, a psychologist, or some other mental health professional.
• Be aware that thoughts of self-harm or suicide are not normal, but instead are very serious symptoms that require immediate attention. Treatment of depression is successful in 80% or more cases and delaying typically results in increasing symptoms and risk.
• Remember that men are notoriously reluctant to seek help and therefore at greater risk.
• Among men in particular, crying is an unusual behavior and a serious indicator of emotional and psychological distress.
• Men act defensively where personal and emotional matters are concerned. Get them to talk, and don’t be surprised that once they do, they have lots to say.
• When men do cry, be supportive, not discouraging.
• Don’t be afraid to ask about thoughts of self-injury and suicide—odds are that you are not suggesting something that hasn’t already come to mind, but instead expressing fear and concern for safety and well being.
• Alert the individuals significant others that you have concerns about them. Share what you know about the dangers of depression and what can be done to help.

Comments (0)

Rich text editor