The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) notes that about 6 million men suffer from a type of depression in the United States. Men may suffer from major depression, a type of depression marked by five or more symptoms over a period of two weeks, or dysthymic disorder, a chronic form of depression. Male depression may go undiagnosed due to several factors. For example, men with depression may not want to talk about their symptoms or may feel that a mental illness makes them less than a man.
The signs of depression in men differ from the signs of the depression in women, as men may experience depression differently. For example, men who suffer from depression may not complain of feelings of hopelessness as women with depression do.
Aggression and Anger
Depressed men may become irritated or angry. MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, notes that depression may cause a regularly low mood or irritable mood. Depressed men may find that they are becoming angry more often or easily agitated. For some depressed men, this anger may cause problems. The MayoClinic.com lists inappropriate rage and violent behavior as possible signs of depression in men.
Some men may turn to dangerous behavior as a way to cope with their depression. For example, some individuals may participate in risky behavior while depressed. Examples include reckless driving or daredevil stunts. Alcohol and drug abuse may occur. Men with depression may turn to the substances to cope with their symptoms rather than seeking psychological treatment. The NIMH notes that “men are more likely than women to report alcohol and drug abuse or dependence in their lifetime; however, there is a debate among researchers as to whether substance use is in “symptom” of underlying depression or a co occurring condition that more commonly develops in men.”
For some men, they may turn to escapist behaviors while depressed. An escapist behavior involves the patient throwing his attention into another task so he doesn’t have to think about his depression. For example, a depressed man may become over involved his work that he doesn’t have to deal with his depression.
Fatigue and Sleep Changes
One sign of depression that men may complain about is fatigue. Depressed men may feel that they do not have as much energy as they used to; this can make it difficult to complete tasks during the day. The fatigue may also arise due to changes in sleeping habits. Depressed patients may either sleep too much or too little. For example, patients who have atypical depression may oversleep.
Loss of Interest in Activities
While some men may throw themselves into their work and other activities, other men suffering from depression may lose interest in things they once enjoyed. For example, they may not have the interest they used to have in their work or their hobbies. Some men with depression may find themselves socializing less than before.
Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors
Serious signs of depression in men are suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Men have a suicide rate four times greater than women, according to the NIMH. Men who attempt suicide tend to use more lethal methods. If someone with depression is contemplating suicide, he should seek help immediately.
NIMH: Men and Depression
MayoClinic.com: Male Depression: Understanding the Issues
Helpguide.org: Understanding Depression: Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Help
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Depression