Men are not like women. Yes, I know that this is stunning news. Alert the media! It’s true though; men are different from women in more ways than one would normally think. Due to their differences they are more vulnerable to some serious side effects of depression.
‘Vulnerable’ isn’t a word that’s often associated with males and that’s part of the problem. Men, as a rule, do not talk about their feelings. They don’t like to be thought of as vulnerable, weak, in need of help, or fragile. A man is much less likely to confide in a friend, a co-worker, spouse or medical professional that they are feeling depressed.
Depression affects men as well as women, yet the medical profession sees much fewer men than women because men do not seek help for this condition as much as their female counterparts do.
Men feel the need to be powerful, in control, competitive and often neglect their mental health in the process of being ‘manly’. Men have traditionally had the role of being tough and self-reliant, and sometimes the women in their lives hold that same view of the male role. A man wanting to talk about his feelings of vulnerability and fragility can be taken as a sign of weakness to some women and this can result in the loss of a relationship.
Because men are not inclined to believe they need help and think that it’s a sign of virility that they can handle whatever life throws their way—they are not often aware of the symptoms of depression. Instead of seeking help, men may try to compensate for their feelings of depression by increasing alcohol consumption or using drugs to mask their pain. This can result in risky behavior.
Some will spend more time at work and less time at home, leading to problems in relationships. If you’re suffering from depression you may be underperforming at work, feel less likely to talk than usual, you feel irritable, feel achy and you are worrying more and more about things in your life.
Physical problems, such as erectile dysfunction can result in depression in men. Occasionally depression can cause sexual problems, but the good news is that there are many treatments available to help with both.
Men should know that depression can affect them as well as women and need to know the signs:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of sex drive
- Trouble concentrating
- Loss of energy
- No desire to maintain personal hygiene
- Losing interest in people or activities
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms it’s ok to talk to your doctor. You’re not superman. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak.