“Depression is rage spread thin” - George Santayana
Depression affects 6 million men every year in America alone. Reasons for depression that men have reported include: trouble in an important relationship, unemployment, pregnancy or childbirth, separation/divorce, retirement, and work stress.
There is a lot of pressure upon men in our society to maintain a sense of “masculinity” and being a “real man”. Sometimes this means that when a man feels desperate, lonely or depressed – he will hide his feelings and keep things bottled up. Because of this, men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women (statistic from the Royal College of Psychiatrists).
There is a common misconception that women are the more body conscious, the more emotional and the more soulful of the sexes – but this is not true. A man may look into the mirror and hate his appearance, doubting himself for not being muscular enough, for being short, not having much chest hair etc. Similarly, men feel the same emotional range as women and can also suffer from depression or anxiety. They just tend to keep it much more hidden.
If you think you know a man who is suffering with depression, be sensitive about it. He may not want to admit to himself or you that he is out of his depth. Men traditionally see themselves as having a lot of responsibility; earn the wage, be the protector, be man of the house. And when they start to struggle they see it as a failure. A crisis of masculinity, if you like.
Things you need to know and look for concerning Male Depression:
· Coping Mechanisms – Male coping mechanisms differ a lot from female coping strategies. A man might throw himself into an activity, focussing a lot on work or sport to avoid dealing with his problems or distract himself. Also, the man in question might resort to impulsive strategies such as alcohol or drugs to cope with the feelings they are experiencing.
· Downplaying signs or symptoms – Men are much more likely to ignore or justify the feelings they are experiencing than females.
· Reluctance to discuss things – Men probably wont want to discuss they feelings with anyone, let alone a mental health professional. It’s better to reach out to your man in a caring, casual way when encouraging to seek help, e.g. “It’s probably nothing darling, but it might be worth just popping to see Dr Smith in case he has any suggestions” than “You are depressed and I’m taking you to see a Psychiatrist on Monday!”.
· Emotions – Men are likely to feel anger, violence or frustration rather than sadness when they are depressed.
· Physical vs Emotional – Males are likely to report feelings of physical pain such as headaches, backaches, dizziness, chest and joint pain rather than emotional discomfort.
If you think that your partner, son, brother, father or male friend is suffering from depression, try to encourage them to seek help from a Doctor or Psychotherapist without pressuring them or making a big “fuss” about it. The Royal College of Psychiatrists offers helpful information here: