Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know About Depression in Men

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We have all heard the saying “men are from Mars, women are from Venus.” I giggle when I hear that the genders come from different planets because there is more than a grain of truth to it. Men and women seem to possess their own unique customs, language, and visions of relationships (as well as many other things). But did you know that when it comes to the way diseases present, gender differences may also exist? The reason for this must lie somewhere on the mystical X and Y chromosome.

Doctors and researchers are starting to pay attention to these “gender specific” presentations to avoid giving one species a bum rap. This is particularly the case for clinical depression. Depression is typically associated with sadness and crying. However, in males, it manifests as anger, irritability, and aggression. Consequently, women are more likely to be diagnosed, and as a result, successfully treated for it. But in reality it affects men almost equally.

Dr. Nina’s – What you Need to Know: Let’s take a look at some of these “gender specific” symptoms of depression in men:

    • Anger. Although this appears to be on the opposite end of the spectrum from sadness, anger and sadness may just be two sides of the same coin. Experts believe that a man who realizes something is wrong may need to compensate by demonstrating that he is in control or capable. Depression in men is more likely to present as hostility or even controlling behavior. In some situations, verbal and physical abuse towards their mates, children, or loved ones can be seen.
    • Reckless behavior. Sudden embarking in dangerous sports, reckless driving, gambling, and substance abuse may be a sign of depression. Alcohol and illicit drugs can become a maladaptive coping mechanism. An interesting point is that alcoholics are more likely to suffer from depression compared to those who do not drink.
    • Irritability. Negative thoughts may manifest as frustration, crankiness, or excessive agitation when provoked. Irritability can also be accompanied by an increased heart rate, breathing, or sweating.
    • Physical pain. Headaches, backaches, sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction, and digestive problems that are resistant to normal therapy may be a sign of depression in men. When a physical illness or other condition is caused or aggravated by a mental factor, it is referred to as psychosomatic.
    • Stress. It may be more socially acceptable to report symptoms of depression as stress. This may be the “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” dilemma. It is also well known that prolonged exposure to stress can result in depression.
    • Anxiety. Depression and anxiety often come hand-in-hand. Interestingly, women are more likely to experience anxiety, but men are more likely to talk about it. Experts suggest that it may be easier to put words to worries and fears.

“Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle” than to speak to a loved one that they may be suffering from depression. However, by doing so, you may be the key to, and motivating factor, that can help him get better and maybe even save his life. Remember, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Avoid being critical or judgmental. Stating that “you appear to be having more frequent headaches” or “you seem to be under a tremendous amount of stress” is less of an affront than “you are depressed and need help.” Your chances at success may be increased with the foot in the door technique. Recommending a visit with his primary care physician may encounter less resistance than getting him to initially see a mental health professional. Additionally, his doctor can help rule out other medical causes of depression and then make suggestions for further treatment.

Although men and women may be from different planets, depression affects them both. Proper treatment can allow the person to deal with the condition and regain the joys of life.

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Photograph by K. Cecchini

Notice: This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither Dr. Nina Radcliff or Kimberly Cecchini take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness.