Depression in Men - What Depression & Men Looks Like

    men-with-depression-happens-at-any-age.jpgDepression in men can be hard to see sometimes. The reasons that cause depression in men don’t have to be though. Take a look at the list of life events below and see if you can see how these could cause anyone to feel depressed.

    Here are some of the stories I've heard from men in counseling recently:

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    • "When she said maybe it's time to part ways, I realized my marriage is over" -- Jim B.
    • "I got laid off the Friday before Christmas" -- Nate L.
    • "My girlfriend and I are splitting up" -- Sean O.
    • "My son's mother told me she's going to keep me from seeing him this year" -- Anthony G.
    • "I hate my life" -- John M.

    As you can see, it's been a little rough in counseling lately. If you're a guy struggling, feeling down, and maybe even a little hopeless, you're not alone.

    Circumstances like these can naturally lead to depression in any man. And so understandably, many men get depressed. In fact, more than 6 million men suffer from a depressive illness every year (that's 7% of the male population in the United States). However, in my professional experience of counseling men, the percentage of men with some form of depression, especially minor depression, is actually much higher.

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    Not only is depression in men hard to see, but it typically looks a lot different than it does in women. Additionally, because of the cultural expectations for men to be strong, not have problems or to talk about how they feel, the signs of depression in men are often hidden. Men are more likely to talk about physical symptoms, such as feeling tired, rather than feelings, such as feeling sad, worthless or having excessive guilt.

    Some of the most common symptoms of depression in men include:

    • Fatigue
    • Irritability and moodiness
    • Anger and aggression
    • Loss of interest in work or hobbies
    • Sleep difficulties
    • Alcohol or drug abuse
    • Excessive work or risky behavior

    A few of the above are not just signs of depression in men, but also ways men deal with it. For instance, instead of asking for help, which many men perceive as weakness, men are more likely to deal with depression by drinking heavily or even committing suicide. Robin Williams was just the latest high profile example of a depressed man.

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    Here's the really BAD NEWS - WebMD states: Depression in men can have devastating consequences. The CDC reports that men in the U.S. are about four times more likely than women to commit suicide. A staggering 75% to 80% of all people who commit suicide in the U.S. are men. Though more women attempt suicide, more men are successful at actually ending their lives.

    Here's the reallyGOOD NEWS Research shows that more than 80% of people with depression get better with appropriate treatment, which includes counseling, sometimes combined with antidepressant medication. And some types of counseling can be just as effective as medications for treating certain types of depression (such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT).

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    GREAT NEWS is that if you're feeling a hopeless like the guys above, you don't always have to feel this way, but you do have to get some help just like they're doing.

    There’s nothing wrong (or weak) about being a man and feeling depressed over a marriage ending, losing a job, or not seeing your kids. What is weak (or really not smart) is to let pride prevent you from asking for help. When today’s man gets lost, he turns to his car or phone's GPS for help. The same goes for depression in men, when you ask for professional counseling help you'll discover how to get things to change for the better.

    Editor's Note: This post was originally published on January 19, 2010 and has been updated with new information.

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