Male Secret Sorrow

Are you feeling tired and irritable and have lost interest in things that formerly gave you pleasure? Is sleeping an issue and does anger and resentment crop up very frequently? Are sadness, feelings of emptiness and negativity clouding your thinking? If so, then you may be suffering from depression. Depression afflicts people from all walks of life regardless of age, gender or personality type. Men suffer from depression as well but this is underreported as men generally do not seek help or acknowledge this illness. It has been found by researchers that although women are more likely to try and commit suicide whilst depressed, men are more likely to die by suicide under depression.

The majority of symptoms of depression are shared by the genders but men and women exhibit their symptoms in different ways. Signs of depression in men may include:

·         Feelings of sadness, emptiness, anger and hostility

·         Loss of interest in work, family, hobbies, and sex

·         Lethargy

·         Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts

·         Psychosomatic symptoms like headaches, cramps, digestive problems

·         Eating more or less than usual

·         Difficulties with concentration

·         Inability to meet daily life responsibilities

Compared to women, men are more competitive and concerned with success and power. Most men need to feel in control of themselves and situations and have difficulty relying on others. Men are less likely to speak openly about their feelings even to doctors and these may be some of the reasons why they do not seek help for depression as much as women do.

Coping mechanisms of both men and women also differ. Whilst women go to therapy, talk to their friends, loved ones and their doctors and try and seek help for the way they feel; men turn to alcohol or drugs in order to make themselves feel better. While these may seem affective at first, these risky behaviours can lead to sustaining the depression over a longer period of time which may also increase the risk of suicide.

Research has also shown that married men’s marital relationships suffer the most when men are depressed. Arguments tend to make men feel uncomfortable and they are more likely to withdraw into a shell and this can lead to their wives feeling left out and neglected.

Sex is another area that suffers among depressed men. Whilst research has demonstrated that men who are depressed have a similar amount of sex compared with men who are not depressed, men with depression tend to feel less satisfied. Anti-depressants also play a role in reducing sex drive among both men and women.

Jimmy, a 30 year old banker, suffered from depression which lasted eight months. Speaking about his depression he stated, “I didn’t have the energy to do even the most basic things like brushing my teeth or taking the dog out for a walk. The only reason I got up in the morning was because I had to drop my son to school while my wife went to work. I slept most of the day, lost my job, and didn’t see any of my friends for eight months. I hated my life and wanted to be myself again.”

There are several different causes for depression among men and these may include;

·         Stress – tragic life events, difficult relationships, work problems and other life issues may trigger depression

·         Hormones – although thought of mostly as a woman’s domain, men also have mood changes due to hormonal activities in their bodies

·         Genes – a family history of depression also increases the risk of the development of depression

Depression is a treatable illness and can be short-lived or prevented if men acknowledge its presence or the tendency for it to occur. Ways of treating depression include medication such as antidepressants and talking therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy or counselling.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: F.Y. holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Psychology. Her research interests are focused on mothering, especially in light of traumatic and stressful life events, and its impact on child development and child behaviour. Her Master's dissertation was on the topic of mothering in prisons and separation of mothers and their babies whilst in prison. She also writes a weekly column on psychological health for a foreign publication. 

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