Understanding Depression in Men

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Understanding Depression in Men

Did you know the signs, symptoms, and even the coping methods of depression can be different for men? Learn what to look for and how to get support when you need it.

06/03/2022
A somber-looking man stares off while a woman (blurred in the background) places a comforting hand on his shoulder.

Depression can affect anyone, regardless of their gender. Regrettably, only one in four men experiencing signs of depression and anxiety actually seek help from a mental health professional. Societal expectations can often prevent men from being open about their feelings or reaching out for support when they need it most. Recognizing these signs early, taking action to treat them, and understanding that you are not alone are sure ways to destigmatize the conversation around men’s health. 

It’s true that depression is diagnosed in about twice as many women as men. But that may be at least in part because we are not as familiar with the warning signs in men. Or, men may not feel as comfortable sharing their concerns with a doctor. Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand how men experience depression so we can make sure they get the help they need.

What’s the same

Depression is a serious mood disorder that may affect one’s feelings, thoughts, and approach to daily life. There are several types of depression and many potential causes or triggers, including unaddressed trauma or major life events—even parenthood. One in 10 dads will experience postpartum depression during their first year of fatherhood. Depression can affect anyone at any age.

Some common symptoms of depression may include:

  • Prolonged feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, pessimism, restlessness, or emptiness.
  • Extreme fatigue and/or changes in sleep patterns, like difficulty falling asleep or sleeping more than usual.
  • Body aches and pains, digestive problems, and headaches.
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions.
  • Changes in eating habits, like overeating or loss of appetite.
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts.

What’s different

While they may experience some of the symptoms noted above, the Mayo Clinic says men may also show signs that are not always associated with depression, including:

  • Escapist behavior, such as spending a lot of time at work or on sports.
  • Problems with alcohol or drug use.
  • Controlling, violent, or abusive behavior.
  • Irritability or inappropriate anger.
  • Risky behavior, such as reckless driving.

“Mental health does not discriminate. For men, it’s a need that often goes unaddressed because cultural norms can discourage them from expressing their emotions or leave them feeling as though these emotions are not valid,” said Dr. Kelly McGuire, medical director of behavioral health for EmblemHealth, ConnectiCare’s parent company. “With men three and a half times more likely than women to commit suicide, the need for our healthcare community to spread awareness and resources surrounding men’s health is necessary to break the stigma.”

Asking for help

If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, please know you are not alone. Be open with your friends, family, and medical professionals about what you’re experiencing. Talk to your doctor or take advantage of resources available through your health insurance plan. Treatment options may include medicinal or talk therapy, or a combination of both.

ConnectiCare members may be able to get support using their behavioral health benefit, available through Optum. Call 888-946-4658 or visit liveandworkwell.com. The online access code is “connecticare.”

For added help with stress, anxiety, or depression, here are some national hotlines:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
  • National Hopeline Network: 800-442-4673

In an emergency, the first concern is your health. Call 911 or get to an emergency room as soon as possible.

If you are thinking about hurting yourself, feeling depressed, or just need to talk to someone NOW, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 (TTY: 800-799-4889). They are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.