Is depression different for men?

As Michael Stipe from REM sang: “Everybody Hurts (sometimes),” but the symptoms of depression are often very different in men, and harder to spot. Recent guidance from the National Institutes of Health might help you, or a loved one, understand what’s going on – and find resolution. 

Men’s depression symptoms often manifest as anger or aggression, rather than sadness. Family members, or the men themselves, might not see that what’s behind the rage is a profound sense of loss. If left unchecked, the situation can get worse.

The National Institutes of Health differentiates between the regular “blues” which all of us get from time to time, and the clinical mood disorder of true depression which impairs the ability to function or handle daily life. Doctors estimate that a prolonged bout of feeling this way, of two weeks or more, is symptomatic of a clinical disorder. 

Here are some of the signs the NIH suggests looking out for: 

  • Men with depression may feel very tired and lose interest in work, family or hobbies. 
  • They may be more likely to have difficulty sleeping than women who have depression. 
  • Sometimes mental health symptoms appear to be physical issues. For example, a racing heart, tightening chest, ongoing headaches or digestive issues can be signs of a mental health problem. Many men are more likely to see their doctor about physical symptoms than emotional symptoms.
  • Some men may turn to drugs or alcohol to try to cope with their emotional symptoms. Also, while women with depression are more likely to attempt suicide, men are more likely to die by suicide because they tend to use more lethal methods.

With the right treatment – usually a combination of talk therapy, exercise, a healthy eating regimen and, sometimes, medication, the NIH notes most men can work through the depression and come out the other side. 

If you, or someone you love, exhibits anything from the list above, don’t ignore the signs. Get help. We’re in this together. Even the future King of England has opened up about his mental health vulnerabilities – so you can, too.