The month of October is designated as a time to take a closer look at depression and how it may affect your mental health. In particular, October 7 is National Depression Screening Day. Men often don’t recognize depression in themselves, which is one of the reasons it’s so important to learn the symptoms as well as to understand when and how to get treatment. It’s also critical to know what causes depression in men.
National Depression Screening Day
Mental Illness Awareness Week runs from October 3-9. During this time, healthcare providers emphasize that we are “Together for Mental Health.” Screening for depression can be done anonymously and confidentially. Mental Health America (MHA) offers a free screening tool that can help you understand more about your symptoms. The screening is not a diagnosis but can be useful as you recognize the need to reach out for treatment.
Holding in Emotions
While a man may believe that he needs to hide his emotions, particularly if he is experiencing the symptoms of depression, that can actually be unhealthy both mentally and physically. Even today, there continues to be a stigma around depression, especially in men. However, it is critically important to understand both the causes and the effects and to seek out treatment.
Recognizing Depression in Men
Recognizing the symptoms is the first step toward getting help. National Screening Day emphasizes the need to understand more about how depression may be affecting you as a man. For some men, it may be a challenge to discuss their experience and they may simply turn to their work to try to stay busy and ignore the signs.
Men are also more likely than women to turn to drugs or alcohol to try to cope with their symptoms. This can lead to even more devastating consequences.
The most serious symptom is the thought of or attempt at suicide, in both men and women. About 9% of men experience the feelings of depression or anxiety every day and over 31% experience a period of depression at some point during their lifetime. Although depression is more common in women, the number of men who die by suicide is four times that of women. While more women attempt suicide, men are more likely to use more lethal methods.
The symptoms of depression can appear very differently in men. In fact, many men do not recognize the symptoms in themselves, and it can be up to family and close friends to recognize some of the signs. Men tend to suppress their feelings and so their sadness can actually manifest outwardly as anger or aggression.
Additional symptoms of depression in men can include:
- Loss of interest in work, family, or activities that were once pleasurable
- Feeling anxious, restless, or “on the edge”
- Feeling sad, “empty,” flat, or hopeless
- Problems with sexual desire and performance
- Not being able to concentrate or remember details
- Feeling very tired, not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
- Overeating or not wanting to eat at all
- Inability to meet the responsibilities of work, caring for family, or other important activities
- Physical aches or pains, including headaches and stomach issues
- Withdrawing from family and friends or becoming isolated
- Engaging in high-risk activities.
What Causes Depression in Men?
There are a number of factors in a man’s life that can potentially be the source of his depression. If he has a family history of the condition, he will be more likely to experience depression. That doesn’t necessarily mean he will if a family member also has it, but the chances are increased.
Environmental stress can also be a factor. When a man experiences financial problems or problems at work, it can be very stressful. Any kind of major life change, such as losing a loved one or going through a difficult relationship can also be the cause of depression in a man.
A physical condition can also be the source of the mental health condition. A man who has a serious medical issue, such as cancer or heart disease, may become depressed. While the physical illness can make the mental illness worse, the opposite is also true. Men with depression can experience worsened physical symptoms.
The use and misuse of alcohol or drugs can also cause depression in men. These substances can make feelings of isolation and loneliness worse. Alcohol, especially, is a depressant and can increase the sense of fatigue and sadness in a man.
Help for Men is Here at PACE
Screening is critical to understanding the causes of depression as well as the symptoms, so you can get the help you need. Asking for help is a sign of strength. When you need help with your mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and mood disorders, reach out to the professionals at PACE Recovery. We optimize your recovery success with integrated treatment that addresses your mental health and substance use issues.
At PACE, we understand the challenges you are facing during this period of isolation and uncertainty. We’re here to help. Our men’s-only programming has transformed hundreds of lives over the years, and we believe that you can recover. To learn more about our mental health and addiction services, contact our Admissions team.