Right around now, you’re probably being served a lot of messages about holiday cheer. But for many people, the holiday season brings isolation, painful memories and increased stress. This time of year can trigger depression for both men and women.
Depression symptoms can be harder to spot in men, though — because often, men do not feel sad.
Here are some lesser-known symptoms to keep in mind.
Depression can show up differently for men and women.
Depression presents itself in so many different ways, and spotting it is the first step to getting help.
Signs of depression in men:
- Aggression, irritability, anger.
- Loss of interest in work and family.
- Sexual dysfunction or reduced interest in sex.
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, aches or pain, and digestive problems.
- Reluctance to talk about feelings.
- Difficulty recognizing or accepting depressive symptoms; reluctance to seek treatment.
- Substance misuse.
- Risk-taking and impulsive behavior.
- Lack of interest or pleasure in once-pleasurable activities.
- General loss of motivation.
- Feeling sad, empty or hopeless.
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much.
- Feeling restless, jittery.
- Increased or decreased appetite (with significant weight gain or loss).
- Feeling lethargic, heavy-limbed.
- Lack of confidence.
- Feeling guilty, worthless.
- Difficulty concentrating, including for everyday activities like having a conversation or watching TV.
- Having thoughts of not wanting to live and/or wanting to take one’s life.
In 2020, nearly four times more men died by suicide than women.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, connect with someone from the suicide and crisis lifeline by calling or texting 988 or visiting 988lifeline.org. Veterans and service members should press 1 for the Veterans Crisis Line or text 838255. Services are free and confidential.
There are a few reasons depression can lead to suicide more in men than women.
First, depression is associated with more impulsive and risk-taking behavior and substance misuse in men, which can quickly escalate to behaviors that lead to suicide.
Second, men are less likely to talk to a healthcare provider or therapist about their mental health and get the support they need, such as medications or talk therapy.
Finally, the symptoms of depression in men are not often recognized by men themselves, their healthcare providers, or loved ones. Which means that many men — and the people closest to them — may not realize they need help in the first place. That’s why it’s so important to know, and share, the above signs of depression.
Depression is complicated, but you can overcome it.
Like many health issues, depression can be caused by any number of factors.
For example, a long list of medical conditions are linked to depression. That includes:
- Thyroid abnormalities.
- Heart disease.
So are social and psychological stressors, like:
- Financial strain.
- A big life transition such as retirement or a child leaving for college.
- Experiencing abuse (i.e. emotional, psychological, physical).
Depression can have a seasonal pattern, triggered by cold weather and reduced sunlight in the winter months, or heat and humidity in the summer months. It can also be hereditary: If you have a family history of depression, you are more likely to develop depression.
Whatever’s behind your depression, we now have lots of treatment options that offer proven relief — from therapy to medications.
So if you’re struggling with any of the above symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider today. Depression can become severe, and it can be life-threatening. Please don’t wait to get help.