It occurred to me during my journey starting MenStyleFashion that men just like us women have their meltdowns let alone insecurities. Are men just as conscious of the way they look and feel about themselves? Do they go through periods during their life of doubt about who they are? Do men suffer from depression? The simple answer to this is yes. For me when I am working with guys, the one aspect I adore is the transformation of how they feel about themselves. My role is to make men aware of, in relation to fashion, that their personal appearances counts in everyday life.
According to Josh Klapow, PhD, a clinical psychologist with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Public Health, men are more likely than women to report fatigue and other physical symptoms of depression as their chief complaints.
Sleep problems such as insomnia, waking up very early in the morning, or excessive sleeping—are common depression symptoms. “Some people sleep 12 hours a day and still feel exhausted or toss and turn and wake up every two hours,” says Dr. Cook. Like fatigue, sleep troubles are one of the main symptoms that depressed men may discuss with their doctor, experts say.
Stomachache or Backache
Health problems such as constipation or diarrhoea, as well as headaches and back pain, are common in people who are depressed. But men often don’t realize that chronic pain and digestive disorders go hand in hand with depression, according to focus groups conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health. Norman Sussman, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the NYU Langone Medical Center, says people who are depressed do genuinely feel bad physically.
Irritability And Concentration
Instead of seeming down, men who are depressed often show signs of irritability. “If they talk about an emotional component, it could be sadness with irritability,” says Dr. Cook. Psychomotor retardation can slow down a man’s ability to process information, thereby impairing concentration on work or other tasks.
“Depression fills one with negative thoughts, almost like an intrusion,” Klapow says. “You’re slowed down and constantly thinking about negative things in your world. As a result it makes it very difficult to focus on anything.”
Anger or Hostility
Some men manifest depression by being hostile, angry, or aggressive, says. Dr. Sussman. “A man who realizes something is wrong may need to compensate by demonstrating that he is still strong or capable,” he says. Anger and hostility are different than irritability. “Anger tends to be a stronger emotion,” Klapow says. “Irritability is a crankiness.”
“Men might be more likely to report symptoms of depression as stress. It’s not that they have more stress; it’s that it’s more socially acceptable to report it,” Klapow says. According to Dr. Cook, stress and depression can also travel a two-way street. “It’s accurate to say that feeling stressed can be an indicator of having clinical depression but also be part of the cause,” he says.
Research has shown a strong link between anxiety disorders and depression. Men may be no more likely than women to experience anxiety—in fact, anxiety disorders are about twice as prevalent in women—but it’s often easier for men to talk about feeling anxious rather than sad, Dr. Cook says.
Substance abuse frequently accompanies depression. Research has shown that alcoholics are almost twice as likely to suffer from major depression as people without a drinking problem. “It can happen for both men and women, but using drugs or alcohol to mask uncomfortable feelings is a strategy many men will employ instead of seeking health care,” says Dr. Cook.
Depression is a common reason for loss of desire and erectile dysfunction (ED), and it’s one symptom that men are inclined not to report. “Performance problems can come from depression and make depression worse,” Dr. Cook says. However, ED can be the result of other medical conditions or medications (including antidepressants), and ED by itself does not signal depression.
“I can’t count the number of people who have said, ‘I had money in the bank but the phone got shut off because I couldn’t bring myself to [pay the bill] or decide what to do and when.’ It gets overwhelming,” Dr. Cook says.
Some people naturally have a hard time making decisions, so an inability to make choices is usually worrisome only if it’s a new behaviour.
Women are more likely to attempt suicide, but men are more than four times as likely to die if they do attempt suicide. One reason is that men tend to choose more lethal methods. “They more often use firearms and kill themselves the first time they try,” Dr. Cook says.
Older men are at highest risk for suicide, and doctors may miss depression symptoms in this group. In fact, more than 70% of older suicide victims saw their primary care physician within the month of their death.