Last month, I dedicated a day to the topic of women’s issues and depression: how our hormonal fluctuations contribute to depression and bipolar disorder. Some readers questioned whether or not the figures were accurate–that twice as many women than men suffer from depression–since so many men are undiagnosed. True. True. True. I have been amazed at how many readers are male. In fact, some of the strongest voices are men’s. (You know who you are.) The topic of male depression was worth researching. The following, from MayoClinic.com tells why depression goes undiagnosed in men and how the symptoms differ from women’s:
Each year, depression affects about 6 million American men and 12 million American women. But these numbers may not tell the whole story. Because men may be reluctant to discuss male depression with a health care professional, many men with depression may go undiagnosed, and consequently untreated.
Some men learn to overvalue independence and self-control during childhood. They’re taught that it’s “unmanly” to express common feelings and emotions often associated with depression, such as sadness, uncertainty or a sense of hopelessness. They tend to see illness – especially mental illness – as a threat to their masculinity. So men may deny or hide their problems until a partner’s insistence or a catastrophic event, such as job loss or arrest, forces them to seek treatment.
When they visit their health care professional, men are more likely to focus on physical complaints – headaches, digestive problems or chronic pain, for example – than on emotional issues. As a result, the connection between such symptoms and male depression may be overlooked. And even if they’re diagnosed with depression, men may resist mental health treatment. They may worry about stigma damaging their careers or about losing the respect of family and friends.
Symptoms of male depression
In both men and women, common signs and symptoms of depression include feeling down in the dumps, sleeping poorly, and feeling sad, guilty and worthless. Men with depression, however, have bouts of crying less often than do women with depression.
Other symptoms of male depression often include:
* Anger and frustration
* Violent behavior
* Losing weight without trying
* Taking risks, such as reckless driving and extramarital sex
* Loss of concentration
* Isolation from family and friends
* Avoiding pleasurable activities
* Loss of interest in work, hobbies and sex
* Alcohol or substance abuse
* Misuse of prescription medication
* Thoughts of suicide
In addition, men often aren’t aware that physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive disorders and chronic pain, can be symptoms of male depression.