I often get asked by concerned women: How can I tell if a male is depressed?
And in particular: How can I tell if my husband is depressed? What should I be noticing? Is it depression, or could it be one of those health conditions which mimics depression?
Although many sites on the internet list the signs and symptoms of depression, I am going to look more in-depth at what to look for specifically, if you suspect that the man you love may be depressed.
This is by no means a complete list, and if you have any serious concerns a visit to your GP or a psychologist for further assistance, may be in order.
What Male Depression Looks Like
Here are some questions to consider, if you have been wondering what depression may look like in a male:
- Does your man seem abnormally tired, or is he showing unusual signs of fatigue?
- Have you noticed your man has a disturbed sleep pattern – either insomnia where they are not sleeping enough, or hypersomnia where they seem to be sleeping too much?
- Has your male partner been suffering from frequent bouts of stomach ache; back ache; constipation; or diarrhea (this is conversion of symptoms into physical illness)?
- Does your husband seem more irritable than usual, and seem less able to control his irritation?
- Have you noticed, or has your man complained of, difficulties with concentrating, and a decrease in the ability to process information?
- Does you husband show signs of anger or hostility, because of consistent negative thinking (if he mentions such thinking)?
- Is your husband showing increased signs of stress?
- Has your husband mentioned feelings of anxiety or stress? Men tend to voice feelings of depression, as “I’m feeling anxious/stressed”.
- Is your man increasingly relying on, or abusing substances, to unusual levels?
- Have you noticed that your partner is not wanting to have sex, or may have experienced sexual dysfunction?
- Does your man experience noticable indecision and/or procrastination, where he was once decisive?
- Have you noticed suicidal thoughts creeping into your partner’s conversation?
Depression and Suicide in Men
Australian men in the 18-30 year old age bracket have one of the highest suicide rates in the world; in fact, suicide remains the leading cause of death for all Australians between 15 and 34 years of age.
The Australian macho/mates culture where introspection is discouraged, and may even be seen as being feminine, causes the need to feign coping.
However, denying feelings of depression can cause hidden anxiety and loneliness which itself can’t be expressed. It is usually quite difficult for men to seek counselling because of their fear of appearing weak and not coping, and so they will desperately cling to the “I’m fine mate” facade.
Man to Man Therapy Can Help!
However, as a general rule, once a man turns up for therapy, they can be reassured:
- that it is fine not to know all the answers, or to feel unsure;
- that it is not the end of the world to admit to inner pain, guilt and failure;
- that in fact, by doing so, they will likely find a tremendous sense of relief;
- and that real progress is possible in their personal lives, and in their roles as a partner and a father.
If you suspect the man you love is struggling with depression, see if you can get him to come in for some man to man therapy. I can work with you together as a couple, or provide individual therapy to your man, with support and strategies to help with overcoming depression.
Author: Dr David Wells, B Psych (Hons), Dip Prof Couns, D Psych (Clin Geropsychology).
David is a Clinical Psychologist, with a keen interest in couples counselling. He strives to provide a safe environment for his clients to explore their issues and, with assistance, develop new techniques which will help them change their unproductive behaviours. The aim is to have a happier life that assists people to reach their relationship, personal and life goals.
Dr David Wells is currently on extended leave. If you would like to book with an alternative clinician with similar expertise, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.