Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses worldwide. More than 264 million people suffer from the disorder, which can be mild to severe. In men, the symptoms may differ from the commonly recognized signs. That’s why depressions often go unnoticed in them. Our expert tips can help you or a concerned friend get help.
What is depression?
Depression is a serious affective disorder that affects both men and women of all ages. She expresses herself in
- a persistent feeling of sadness,
- Hopelessness and dem
- Loss of interest in activities that sufferers would normally enjoy.
There are many possible symptoms – both emotional and physical. To be diagnosed with clinical depression, these symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.
Depressed men are less likely to go to the doctor
Women are generally considered to suffer from depression more often, which is also reflected in the statistics (11.3% of those affected are women and 5.1% are men). In addition, men are less likely to talk about their problems and seek help. This means that many men may not be diagnosed with depression at all.
"Men tend not to talk about their feelings and therefore turn to other, potentially destructive, coping methods when faced with emotional problems", explains psychologist Lina Anderhell. "This behavior is often due to the fact that they do not want to show themselves as vulnerable and has to do with the typical male understanding of their roles."
Depression: symptoms often different in men
"Another reason men often don’t ask for help," according to Ms. Anderhell, "is that they sense something is wrong with them but don’t think about depression. For they do not recognize the typical symptoms in themselves." For example, the classic symptoms of depression, such as excessive crying and loss of pleasure in things that used to make you happy, do not necessarily occur in depressed men.
Men may feel sad and lose interest in hobbies, but often the focus is on symptoms that are very different from the ones they are familiar with. These are not necessarily associated with depression at first glance.
While women tend to withdraw and experience feelings of guilt and worthlessness, men tend to be defensive. For example, they may have a excessive behavior show when they are depressed. By this is meant that they may
- show more physical symptoms,
- drink more alcohol or
- Have outbursts of anger and aggression (see below).
These are usually not associated with depression and can therefore conceal the actual illness.
How depression develops in men
Depression cannot be traced to a single trigger in either men or women. A variety of social, psychological and neurobiological factors often play together. These can be:
- traumatic experiences
- loss experiences
- Genetic predisposition
- Changes in hormonal balance
There may be a trigger or a series of stressful events that lead to becoming depressed.
In men, coping with losses of any kind is one of the main stresses that can trigger depression. To do this
- a broken relationship,
- the death of a loved one or
- the loss of the job
The loss of status, financial problems, or an illness can also cause depression to occur, as this is tantamount to a loss of masculine identity in the perception of many men.
"Men often believe they can’t show weakness and have to take care of the family", explains psychologist Anderhell. "Social norms of traditional masculinity and such beliefs can cause them to downplay and repress stressful experiences in order to continue to ‘function’ on the outside".
Depressive symptoms in men you should know about
On the emotional level
- Loss of interest in work, social life, or hobbies
- indecisiveness or inability to concentrate
At the behavioral level
- aggressive behavior
- increased social withdrawal and isolation
- Increased alcohol and drug use
- professional over-commitment
- Increased risk taking
On the physical level
How to talk to the person affected?
It can be very difficult to broach the subject of depression with an affected man. Especially if he is withdrawn and does not talk openly about his feelings.
"It’s important to bring it up as a partner or friend, even if it scares you," Anderhell explains. Start by simply asking him, "How are you feeling??"
The psychologist suggests addressing what you have noticed about his behavior and what you are concerned about. "The most important thing is not to blame, but to support the person and ask if there is anything you can do to help them," she explains.
The kind of help is to be co-ordinated thereby with the individual case. "He may just want someone to listen to him, or he may be willing for you to see a doctor or psychologist with him," Anderhell says.
How to prevent depression
Socializing, avoiding too much alcohol, and a healthy lifestyle are helpful in stabilizing moods.
Exercise can also help, as physical activity releases what are called happy hormones (endorphins).
Low-intensity endurance training also improves connections between neurons, which can also ease symptoms of depression.
When should you go to the doctor with depression?
Psychologist Anderhell points out that if problems persist, get professional help. "When the symptoms start to interfere too much with everyday life, help should be sought", she emphasizes. "So if it’s not just one or two bad days, but problems arise at work or school, in relationships or in other important areas of life."
What happens during the medical examination?
Before a doctor makes the diagnosis of depression, he or she first conducts a detailed anamnesis interview with the patient. Standardized questionnaires can also be used here. I also need to clarify whether I have a physical illness that can cause depressive symptoms.
Treatment options range from psychotherapeutic methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy to drug treatments with antidepressants for severe depression.