We’ve all heard it before – the word depression, but do we really know what it means and how it affects men? Depression is so much more complicated than just being sad and men handle it differently than women.
Clinical depression is considered an illness that affects the entire body. Researchers with Mental Health America state that depression disrupts your mood, thoughts, body and behavior, and it can last for years. While the symptoms are similar in men and women, women are diagnosed with depression at higher rates than men, but men seek help for their depression less often than women.
The National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) sites three reasons men may experience depression. One, a family history of depression could make men more likely to experience the disorder. Two, a stressful environment caused by death, a difficult relationship, problems at work, or other life stressors could trigger depression. Three, medical illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and others can also trigger depression. Additionally, medications taken to treat these diseases can also have side effects that cause or worsen depression.
The NIMH also notes that men and women exhibit similar symptoms for depression, and often symptoms can be masked as physical issues such as constant headaches, digestive problems, a tight chest or a racing heart. Men are more likely to have these issues checked than the emotional symptoms of depression, which include: anger, aggression, feelings of sadness and hopelessness, overeating or undereating, suicidal thoughts, and withdrawing from family and friends. Researchers state one of the reasons men choose not to seek help is because of the stigma associated with depression. Some men believe it is a sign of weakness to discuss their feelings and emotions while others believe real men are tough and should be able to handle the stress presented in their lives.
If you believe a man you love is battling with depression here are some tips you can use to help. Listen carefully and be patient. If he mentions suicide call a therapist or doctor immediately. Encourage him to eat a healthy diet and exercise, both can help to trigger hormones in his body to lift his mood, and encourage him to see his regular doctor and a therapist, even if he says no, a little encouragement never hurts.