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Men and Depression

Posted 6/11/2018 by UHBlog

Compared to women, men are more likely to suppress their emotions. Tragedy could result when a guy suffering from depression doesn't reach out for help. Don’t suffer in silence – talk to us.

Worried man sitting on sofa

At any given time in the U.S., an estimated one man in every 20 is suffering from some form of depression – and a man has an 8 to 12 percent chance of having an episode of depression in his lifetime, says psychiatrist Andrew Hunt, MD.

Symptoms of depression can include:

  • Deep gloominess
  • Hopelessness
  • Worthlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Not being interested in life or its activities

However, Dr. Hunt says, men are less likely to express those feelings.

“Men tend to act out or externalize their feelings of depression and may present with irritability, frustration or anger. More so than women, they also may engage in aggressive or risk-taking behavior, like excessive use of alcohol,” he says. “Compared to women, men are less likely to seek professional help, or even talk to a friend or family member about feeling depressed. But it's important to seek help if you think you are feeling symptoms of depression – particularly if those feelings persist for more than two weeks. Generally the longer you feel that way, the harder it can be to get out of the rut. Lot of guys suffer in silence.”

Or worse. In extreme cases, depression can lead to a suicide attempt. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., and men die by suicide about three-and-a-half times more often than women. About 15 percent of depressed men who don't seek help or treatment will attempt suicide, Dr. Hunt says.

Fortunately, he says, depression can be treated – and often overcome – with counseling, psychotherapy and/or antidepressant medication.

According to Dr. Hunt, depression in men is often associated with feelings of failure in meeting financial or occupational expectations.

“Other triggers can include loss of a loved one, a traumatic experience or other major life changes,” he says. “In some cases, heredity can increase a person's likelihood of getting depressed.”

Sometimes, feelings of depression progress so slowly that a guy doesn't recognize them until the symptoms become severe.

“As feelings of depression intensify, men may feel that they aren't bad enough to seek help,” Dr. Hunt says. “In many cases, it's a partner who recognizes the changes in a guy, and may try to address the situation with him. If somebody notices that something is wrong and is asking whether you're okay, that's something that you should take seriously.”

Depression in some people can be triggered by seasonal factors, such as a lack of sunlight in the winter – a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Despite Northern Ohio's long and gloomy winters, Dr. Hunt says depression rates in Ohio are around the national average. North Dakota, he adds, has the lowest depression rate in the country, while Mississippi has the highest.

If you’re feeling depressed, a visit to your family doctor is a good first step toward getting better.

“Most primary care physicians are trained to recognize and treat depression, and they may prescribe antidepressants or recommend psychotherapy,” he says. “They can also make a referral to a psychiatrist if more advanced treatment is needed. Medication might be prescribed for a short time for single episodes of depression, or guys who have repeated episodes might remain on medication for extended periods of time. Many people also recover from psychotherapy alone or combined with medication.”

In situations where a person has thoughts of suicide or hurting himself, he should call a crisis and suicide prevention hotline, 9-1-1 or go to your local hospital. Resources such as the Cuyahoga County Suicide Prevention Coalition at 216-623-6888 (or text 741741) or Lake County Crisis Hotline at 440-953-8255 or 440-357-7300 are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Andrew Hunt, MD is a psychiatrist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Dr. Hunt or any other doctor online.

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