Depression often looks and feels different to a man, than it does for a woman.
This may account for why many men are misdiagnosed or missed altogether.
Men also generally have different attitudes and behaviours when it comes to physical and mental health issues and help-seeking behaviours – there appears to be more of a stigma and less of an inclination to approach available professionals for help and support.
This means that depression in men may often go unacknowledged, and/or untreated. In fact the World Health Organization states that fewer than 25% of male sufferers of depression worldwide will seek treatment.
This is particularly worrying given that three quarters of all completed suicides in Australia are male – with rates being highest in men between the ages of 25-44 and in the elderly male population.
So how is male depression different?
- Many men experience depression without sadness or teariness.
- They may experience more physical symptoms such as physical discomfort, pain, dizziness, digestive problems, sleep disorders, diminished energy, decreased interest in sex, a feeling that their body and reactions have been ‘slowed-down’.
- Other emotional reactions may include severe anxiety or a loss of confidence in their ability or social roles.
- Men—more commonly than women—are likely to feel angry, irritable, and frustrated rather than sad when depressed.
- Instead of withdrawing from the world, men may act recklessly or develop a compulsive interest in work or a new hobby.
- Instead of crying, men may engage in violent behaviour.
- Increased use of drugs or alcohol as an emotional coping strategy.
Men are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol when in the midst of a depression, perhaps to find relief from the pain of depressive feelings. This can make it difficult to determine whether a problem is specifically alcohol-or-drug-related or whether it is primarily depression.
If you, or those around you, are noticing changes in your mood and attitude to the point that life is becoming more difficult – you should seek help.
Keep in mind there are many great men in history who suffered from depression: Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, and Buzz Aldrin to name a few.
Author: Ainsley Salsbury, BA(Psych)., Post Grad. Dip. App. Psych, BBus (HRM).
Ainsley Salsbury is the senior psychologist at Vision Psychology, and has a breadth and depth of experience in addressing psychological issues including executive coaching, leadership and managerial development, workbased stress, performance management, bullying and interpersonal conflict. As well as her credentials as a psychologist, she has a Bachelor in Human Resource Management, and has worked in specialist capacities within large organisations, and consulted extensively as a Corporate Psychologist.
She has spent 12 years of her professional life working with clients from a wide range of backgrounds from Corporate Executives, lawyers and accountants to those in manufacturing, correctional services, health, government, school children and recent humanitarian (refugee) entrants to Australia.
Her work in the field of stress and workplace issues is enriched by her largely Cognitive-Behavioural therapeutic orientation, extensive insight into Organisational Dynamics and Behaviours, knowledge and application of a wide variety of Management and Leadership Models, and a fierce commitment to achieving practical outcomes for her clients.