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Is Depression Different In Men? Science Say Yes!

posted on 7/14/2016 Facebook Facebook

Our fast paced highly functional lives are keeping us busy and engaged at all times. However, as our phones are getting smarter and our schedules tighter, certain matters are getting overlooked—one of which is our health. While social media has made it convenient to be connected with each other, people still feel disconnected and withdrawn. Mental health problems like anxiety, depression and several other mood disorders afflict many amongst us. 

According to a 2004 survey, more than 10 percent of the population suffers from depression, but many go undetected due to the stigma attached to the condition. Mental health organizations around the world estimate that about two-thirds of adults will at some time experience depression severe enough to interfere with their normal activities.  

The Many Faces Of Depression Amongst The Genders
It’s no secret that men and women are different, and this fact stays put when it comes to how depression affects the sexes and how they handle it. Women are nearly twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression. Women are more responsive towards their emotions and are better able to describe when they feel the blues. On the other hand, men might not be able to recognize their symptoms to call it depression, delaying help and treatment. 

Depression In Men & How Is It Different? 
Depression has been viewed primarily as a women’s disease. Of the 350  million people who suffer from clinical depression worldwide, less than 1 in 10 are men. However, according to a rather troubling statistic, 80 percent of people who attempted or actually died of suicide were men. 

So, stuck in this stereotype of claiming depression solely as a woman problem is not only medically inaccurate but also morally wrong. Although men and women are more alike than not, there is a difference when it comes to depression. Men and women both get depressed, but men express it differently. It is important to note that depression can manifest in multiple ways that are unique to a person, including their role in society and their developmental history.

Symptoms Of Depression
While the basic symptoms of depression can be very similar in both men and women, men tend to express them more differently. Men are more action oriented in their depression, they fight to get control of it by getting angry and controlling. They have a greater tendency to explode rather than implode. Hence a higher likelihood of an effective suicide and less likelihood of being diagnosed as depressed. There are three aspects to symptoms when it comes to diagnosing depression in men. 

Physical Symptoms 
•Extreme fatigue and tiredness
•Trouble falling asleep
•Drastic changes in the appetite
•Chronic muscle pain

Behavioral Symptoms
•Increased irritability, anger and aggression
•Alcohol and Drug abuse
•Mood swings
•Reckless behavior
•Irresponsible actions accounting to self-harm

Psychological Symptoms
•Low self esteem
•Persistent negative thoughts

Implications Of Depression In Men 
Depression sounds like weakness and it has been historically a female issue. So when you attach the word "depression" to a man the diagnosis itself can feel like failure or weakness and increase the symptoms. When men pull the plug, they don''''t care who they take with them the way women will. Women are more interested in giving up silently, but men tend to give up full of hate or anger. Because men are exploding they tend to not care who is affected.

Coping With Depression
With the social stigma surrounding a diagnosis of depression in men, they tend to be resistant to any kind of therapy or medication. While they try to hunt for a solution for their depression without the support of anyone, they tend to fall into pits ending up doing wrong things. Seeking treatment for their depression can be a scary proposition for most men. It is important to establish a certain rapport with them. Men are willing to be very active in treatment, as long as it is based on active and pragmatic skill building. Sitting around and talking about emotions and only emotions leads to poor outcome. Once men do see the value in therapy and make progress in treating their depression, they go beyond just taking care of what is wrong and focus on building better relationships at home, at work, and with friends. 

Lastly, we need to understand that men have fewer friends as opposed to their opposite gender and tend to focus their relationship not on support but shared activities. Thus instead of projecting depression as a weakness, we should actively involve men in discussing their emotional and social troubles. 

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3.Kendler KS, Gardner CO, Neale MC, Prescott CA. Genetic risk factors for major depression in men and women: similar or different heritabilities and same or partly distinct genes? Psychol Med. 2001 May;31(4):605-16. PubMed PMID: 11352363.
4.Albert PR. Why is depression more prevalent in women? J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2015 Jul;40(4):219-21. PubMed PMID: 26107348; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4478054.
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