More than 17 million American adults suffered an episode of major depression in the past year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. That’s more than seven percent of the adult population. Depression is more common in women than men. While 8.7 percent of women experienced an episode of depression in 2017, only 5.3 percent of men did. However, experts believe that depression is under-reported in men. This happens for several reasons. One is that men are just less likely to seek help for a mental health issue. If men do get help for depression, it’s more likely to be a result of seeking help for something else, like a substance use issue.
However, another reason depression is under-diagnosed in men is that some common symptoms of depression are not commonly known. The symptoms that are fairly well known include depressed mood, loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, feelings of hopelessness, fatigue, sleeping too much, loss of appetite, and thoughts of suicide or death. However, in some people, especially men, the following symptoms may be more prominent.
Anger or Aggression
While depression is typically thought of as sadness, many people, especially men, are more likely to experience irritability, anger, and aggression. Freud said that depression is anger turned inward but the anger is often turned outward as well. Men often feel like they can’t express sadness, having been taught from a young age to be tough, self-reliant, and not to cry. As a result, the most prominent symptom of depression in men is often irritability, anger, or aggression, which are “safer” emotions for men to express. This may also lead to impulsive behavior, such as fights or criminal behavior, especially in adolescents.
Another very common symptom that people often don’t associate with depression is cognitive issues, especially difficulty concentrating and difficulty remembering. There are a number of reasons for this. One is that depression often disrupts sleep and inadequate sleep has been shown by many studies to cause cognitive impairment. Another reason is that thinking is metabolically expensive. A relatively new theory of depression is that it is related to the immune response that activates when you’re sick. Part of that response is to make you conserve energy for fighting infection. That’s why you feel fatigued when you’re sick. Focused thinking uses a lot of energy, so depression dials that down. As a result, you can’t focus on work for more than three seconds or remember your wife’s name.
Many men primarily experience depression as physical symptoms. Depression is often associated with anxiety, which may cause muscle tension, headaches, and stomach cramps. Depression also increases your sensitivity to pain. Many men go to the doctor complaining of racing heart, tightness in the chest, headaches, and so on, only to find out they’re depressed. As noted above, men are more likely to seek help for another issue–including physical pain–rather than seek help for depression itself.
Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California is a premiere men’s addiction treatment facility that uses eight different modalities to help our men become the best versions of themselves they can be. We teach our men that every day of their journey is something to celebrate and that recovery isn’t a sprint– it’s a marathon.
To get started with Tree House Recovery, call us today at (855) 202-2138