From childhood, we men are taught to be in control of our feelings. And until recently, it looked like we were. That’s because until recently, men were diagnosed with depression only about one-tenth as often as women. But new research suggests that what we're really good at is hiding our feelings. Depression in men may always have been far more common than we knew.
Depression touches every race, income level, and age. Identifying depression in men is difficult.
Here are some basic facts about depression you should know. You are at risk for depression if you
have had a prior episode of depression
have family members with depression
are at a low-income level
Depression is also more common if you have illnesses, such as
Treating depression can sometimes improve these conditions.
Depression is a serious but treatable medical condition -- a brain disease -- that can strike anyone. In America, more than 6 million men have depression each year. If left untreated, it can result in personal, family, and financial problems. The most serious consequence of depression in men is suicide. Men are four times more likely than women to commit suicide.
What is depression?
Depression is much more than just feeling down. Depression is a serious disruption of a person’s regular way of thinking, feeling, and acting.
In general, symptoms of depression include
loss of energy
problems sleeping and concentrating
sadness and loss of interest in pleasurable activities
thoughts about death or suicide
These symptoms of depression can last for weeks or months at a time.
Because women are diagnosed with depression 10 times more often than men, these symptoms of depression are really "their" common symptoms. It is common for men to have them also, but the signs of depression in men may be different. Instead of appearing sad, men often can become irritable or aggressive, drink too much, or act recklessly.
Men often don't recognize or admit they're depressed, and they are less likely than women to seek help for depression. Also, because the signs of depression in men can look different than they do in women, doctors may not diagnosis it as often. For these reasons, depression in men may often go unidentified and untreated.
There are three recognized forms of depression:
Major depression. With major depression, depressive symptoms interfere with the ability to work, eat, sleep, and enjoy life. Symptoms are serious and last for weeks or months.
Dysthymia. Dysthymia is a less severe but more persistent kind of depression.
Bipolar disorder. With bipolar disorder, episodes of depression alternate with mania, an excessively "high" mood, with the potential for serious problems.
After years of research, no one yet understands what really causes depression. Chemicals that nerves use to "talk" to each other in the brain are thrown out of balance. Also, certain areas of the brain can be less active during periods of depression. Research in these areas is ongoing.