Although depression affects approximately 6 million men in the U.S., many of them don’t get the care they need because their symptoms differ from the classic depression symptoms of women’s. Furthermore, men feel shame admitting certain symptoms because depression, in general, is regarded as a women’s illness. What does depression look like in men? Here are five symptoms.
1. Physical pain
Men usually suffer from some kind of physical discomfort: headaches; joint back, or muscle pain; dizziness; chest pain; and digestive problems. Thinking their problem is solely physical, they will go to their primary care physician for help, and because few primary care physicians pick up on the physical symptoms of depression, they may leave undiagnosed.
2. Drug and alcohol abuse
Men more so than women abuse drugs or alcohol as a way to relieve themselves of the pain of depression. It can be difficult, then, to differentiate between a drug or alcohol problem and depression.
3. Reckless behavior
Many men engage in reckless behavior: sex, gambling, or other forms of compulsive and risky conduct. Some become violent and angry, others get irrational.
While women become introspective and blame themselves when depressed, men often direct their anger towards others, and may attack people unprovoked. They blame a coworker, spouse, friend, or parent for their malaise and feel justified in their resentment and irritability.
5. Sexual dysfunction
Men experience a diminished sex drive and an indifference to all aspects of intimacy. Erectile dysfunction (ED) can be part of this overall sexual dysfunction; however, ED is especially complicated because most of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) used to treat depression can cause ED. Men often feel ashamed to discuss this symptom, as they attach sexual performance to their sense of manhood.
Published originally on Sanity Break at Everyday Health.