Men and depression
Men and women are different. Well no great surprises there.
Scientists confirm that men and women’s brains are wired differently, although the differences are relatively small. However the way in which men and women deal with their mental health, suggests a vast difference between the sexes. Gender stereotypes mean men often feel stigmatised if they admit to suffering depression or stress. The old adage that men find it difficult to talk about their feelings is upheld by society’s gender stereotypes, which imprison men in an emotional void. The prescribed stereotype that men must be in control of their emotions, not express internal feelings and remain ‘strong’ at all times continues to prevail.
But those internalised ‘unacknowledged’ feelings need an outlet somewhere. As a result often men will cope with depression by masking it with unhealthy coping behaviours, such as drinking too much, taking drugs or behaving recklessly. Women on the other hand, tend to feel despondent and ruminate excessively when they are feeling depressed.
Left untreated depression can lead to heart disease and other serious medical problems.
The Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report for 2014 shows that men aged 40-44 are the demographic group with the highest rate of suicide, nearly four times that of women the same age; and for men aged 45-54, the rate is roughly three times higher than for women.
Suicide is now the leading cause of death in men under the age of 50.
How to tell if you or a man you care about is depressed
Symptoms of depression:
- Persistent sadness, anxiety, or an “empty” feeling.
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism and low self-worth.
- Loss of interest in sex.
- Depilated energy and fatigue.
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering and making decisions.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Appetite and/or weight changes.
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts.
- Restlessness, irritability and anger.
- Persistent physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain, which do not respond to routine treatment.
Depression is treatable and with the right treatment, most men (and women) can get their lives back on track and begin to feel better.
If you know someone suffering from depression encourage them to seek medical and/or psychological help. By getting treatment sooner rather than later, symptoms can be relieved more quickly, reducing the length of time treatment is needed.
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About Lorraine Green
Lorraine is a therapist with practices based in London and Brighton. She has worked as a counsellor for several mental health charities and has experience of a wide range of mental health issues.