Man looking out office window

Although women are diagnosed with depressive disorders more often than men, many experts say that depression in men is more common than previously believed.  About six million (or seven percent) of adult males suffer from depression each year.

Depression is prevalent enough in men that a Web MD article listed depression and suicide as one of the six top health threats to men.  Although men with depression are less likely to seek help and are more likely to deny or minimize their symptoms,  suicide is the eighth leading cause of death among men.

Men are more likely to display signs of depression rather than report symptoms of depression. Signs of depression are observable behaviors that suggest that someone is depressed, such as crying. However, signs of depression in men can be very different than the signs of depression women show. Violent behaviors, fits of rage, alcohol abuse, and risky behaviors can indicate (or mask) depression in men. Some mental health professionals believe that if lashing out, blame, alcohol abuse, and anger in men were recognized as signs of depression, more men would be diagnosed with depression and receive the proper treatment.

Symptoms of depression in men are often the same symptoms women experience, but men may be more willing to admit to irritability, fatigue, a loss of interest in activities, and sleep problems rather then other symptoms of depression such as sadness, feelings of worthlessness, and guilt.

Causes of depression in men can include genetics and life situations. Work-related stress, financial problems, unemployment, and physical health problems are just a few of the problems that can lead to or worsen depression.

Challenges that occur during significant changes of a man’s life cycle can increase his possibility of getting depressed. Leaving home for the first time, being away from family and friends, relationship problems, and doing poorly in school or work can be sources of depression in young men. Challenges at midlife, including family problems, job loss, a lack of career advancement, and not achieving important goals can worsen depression in men over 40. Feelings of decreased social worth, grieving over the deaths of friends and relatives, and a decrease in independence can trigger depression for men in their retirement years.

The stigma of being a man with depression can prevent him from seeking help. Masculine ideologies likely play a role in discouraging men from seeking help.  If you are a man who is suffering from depression, overcoming this obstacle is a crucial step in improving the quality of your life. It takes courage to ask for help. View seeking help as a sign of strength. Tell your primary care physician about the signs and symptoms of depression you experience, including any abuse of alcohol and other substances. You may find it easier to discuss depression with your doctor if you remind yourself that he or she has already discussed the topic with other male patients. Only a doctor can determine if medication for depression is right for you and your situation.

You may also benefit from professional counseling or talk therapy.  A licensed therapist can work with you to resolve problems and improve your ability to cope with unpleasant life circumstances.  Keep in mind that depression is a treatable condition.  Eight out of 10 people who have depression improve with treatment.