A lot of people have a stereotyped version of what depression looks like in real life. In the movies, it’s always the woman who stays at home all day, sad, crying uncontrollably, and unable to leave her bed. Or, it could be the woman who sits at home and eats her feelings while she watches sad movies in the dark. When we’re looking for signs of depression, we’re generally looking for a female who isolates a lot, cries frequently, has low self-esteem, decreased energy, a ton of negative thoughts, and potentially suicidal thoughts. She typically reaches out to other people to tell them how sad she is. She is able to seek comfort from those around her. In fact, she is ENCOURAGED to reach out. If that’s what we’re looking for then what happens to the men in our lives and what does that do to their ability to ask for help?

In my years of working with a lot of teen and adult males who struggle with eating disorders, addictions, depression, and anxiety, I’ve come to discover that depression looks differently in males than in females. Their symptoms tend to adhere to the social construct created for males. It is not socially acceptable for men to fit the weepy stereotype we associate with depression in females. As a result, men typically act out depression in other ways.

What society says males CANNOT be:

  1. Weepy
  2. Dependent
  3. Emotional
  4. Vulnerable
  5. Anything but confident

How men CAN act out feelings of discomfort and depression:

  1. Isolate
  2. Use substances
  3. Have angry, aggressive outbursts
  4. Fight with other people
  5. Damage property
  6. Act controlling

 

The scariest part about males with depression not getting identified is that they are THREE times as likely to commit suicide than their female counter parts and often use deadlier means such as guns. become suicidal reaching for more lethal means such as guns. We put men in a position where they have to be the emotional protector and caretaker of their families. They are the breadwinners, the one who knows all the answers. The men in our lives are supposed to be the ones who keep everyone safe. Men aren’t supposed to go to anyone for help. They are supposed to be the ones with all the answers. So, when men feel depressed and isolated, unable to find answers for themselves, it can feel emasculating for them to reach out to someone else. It could be emasculating for them to express their vulnerability in such a big way and have their identity as a man questioned.

If you’ve identified some of these behaviors in yourself or some of the males around you, reach out for help. Understand that there is no shame is getting help and that it could restore your quality of life and potentially even save your life. Please see the symptoms of depression listed below for the exact criteria listed for depression *:

If you have been experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Moving or talking more slowly
  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment

*(This criteria is provided by The National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml)

 

For more help and information:

If you’re interested in learning more about how we help people get their lives back and work through addictions, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, self-harm, and other mental health symptoms which wreak havoc on your life, call 210-502-7222 or email [email protected]