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Depression in Men: Recognizing the Signs, Overcoming Stigma, and Seeking Effective Treatment

Depression can be a life-altering and even life-threatening mental health condition. But men can be especially susceptible to the dangers of depression. All too often, men suffering from depression will turn to drugs or alcohol and attempt to cover their symptoms. Naturally, this often leads to great personal harm. Here, we will discuss why this is the case and evidence-based treatment options for Depression in men.

Signs of Depression in Men

Depression in men can be challenging to recognize due to the nature of the coping mechanisms men tend to employ. Often, these coping mechanisms, however maladaptive they may be, can cover up the signs of depression in men and their symptoms. This leaves men’s depression untreated and hidden, making it especially dangerous for the sufferer.

Male Depression Symptoms

  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
  • Extreme tiredness, difficulty sleeping , and oversleeping
  • An inability to enjoy hobbies and activities typically enjoyed
  • Chronic headaches, abdominal pain, and digestive difficulties

Unhealthy Coping Strategies Common to Men

  • Escapism; sports, video games, workaholism
  • Problematic drug or alcohol abuse
  • Violent, abusive, or controlling behavior
  • Inappropriate anger or irritability
  • Excessive risk taking

These coping mechanisms can cover the condition and make sufferers of men’s depression feel that they are simply exhibiting masculine traits. Suppose the condition and unhealthy coping mechanisms persist long enough. In that case, the sufferer may become dependent on their coping mechanisms and grow to believe that they are just part of his personality.

This is when male depression can become exceptionally dangerous.

Societal Norms Affecting Men With Depression

Instincts typical to men and the societal norms that have arisen around men’s depression symptoms make it more likely that depression will be disguised in some of the ways mentioned above. This does not mean that men are inherently weak or foolish. It simply means male instincts have specific vulnerabilities regarding depression and its symptoms. These vulnerabilities frequently lead to the following exacerbating risk factors.

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Unrecognized Depression

For many men, feelings of sadness or a lack of motivation are not easily recognized. Over time, failure to recognize the basic symptoms of depression leads to the repression of those basic depression symptoms, which in turn leads to other more severe symptoms. For many men, the first recognizable signs of depression are digestive problems, headaches, tiredness, long-term pain, or irritability.

Disregarding Male Depression Symptoms

Often, the drive to appear strong or to be productive despite all obstacles causes men to disregard the early symptoms of depression out of hand. Where they might otherwise address feelings of sadness or a lack of motivation, men who are susceptible to repressed depression are likely to “suck it up” or otherwise stuff their feelings down and self-medicate in one way or another.

Resistance to Help

Any man caught up in this cycle of repressed depression and self-medication will unlikely recognize the need for help. Sadly, this is why so many addiction sufferers must “hit bottom” before realizing the need for help and the necessity of professional addiction treatment.

When gone too far, this cycle of emotional repression and maladaptive coping can lead to suicidal thoughts, extreme substance abuse, and/or pronounced violence or risk-taking behavior.

Challenging Cultural Resistance to Male Depression

The first step to recovering from any substance abuse condition is the realization that help is needed. This is equally true for the underlying mental health conditions that can lead to substance abuse and addiction. The longer a man has been engaged with his maladaptive coping strategies, the more difficult it will tend to be for him to realize that he needs help.

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The Dangers of Untreated Depression

In today’s culture, it is exceedingly common for men to self-medicate with a combination of video games or sports viewing and alcohol. In cases like these, the depression-suffering man may even realize that his life is unsatisfying and that he needs to resort to these strategies. But over time, the damage to relationships and his health that these coping strategies cause can spiral out of control.

In these, and any case of depression, the sufferer needs to learn to make choices that will remedy the underlying causes of depression and to stop resorting to dangerous and unhealthy methods of masking them. This means seeking help with underlying mental conditions and/or addiction.

Effective Treatment Options for Depression

While a wide range of medications are designed to treat depression, it is usually best to seek a non-invasive treatment alternative first.

These include:

  • Cognitive therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Art & activity therapy
  • Addiction treatment & counseling
  • Alternative/Holistic/Spiritual treatment
  • and more

If you or someone you care for suffers from men’s depression. Help is available. Don’t let the stigma of male depression stop you from seeking the necessary treatment. We offer a wide range of evidence-based treatments for addiction and mental health issues. Help is just a phone call away.

Get in touch with the addiction and mental health specialists in Franklin, TN at Mind Body Wellness today.