Depression in Men

It’s a fact – men experience depression. Depression affects millions of men every year and is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It’s a serious health issue, with really serious consequences if left untreated.

Depression is a thief

It's an illness that robs you of:

  • Your physical energy and strength
  • Your connections to friends and family
  • Your interest and enjoyment of life
  • -
  • And if left untreated, it can rob you of your will to live.

Depression is real

Depression is no less real than any other health issue, like diabetes or high blood pressure. It’s not in our heads and it doesn’t mean we are weak – it’s a very real illness that affects many aspects of our lives (mood, energy, strength, relationships, concentration) and is experienced by millions of people from all ages, backgrounds, and circumstances.

Just as a broken bone can cause physical pain and limit our ability to move and function, depression can cause emotional pain and make it hard for us to engage in daily activities and fully enjoy life. Unfortunately, while no one would hesitate to seek help for a broken bone, many still hesitate to seek support for their mental health.

This is often because some men:

  • Equate depression with weakness
  • Don’t recognize what they’re experiencing as depressive symptoms
  • Don’t think they need anyone else’s help, that they are beyond being helped, or don’t deserve to be helped
  • Think ‘real men’ need to sort through problems on their own

Another factor that gets in the way of men taking action to treat depression is the negative thinking that comes with depression, causing us to be overly pessimistic about our ability to heal and recover. Depression can really mess with our thoughts and it can interfere with our ability to experience positive emotions and hope.

Thankfully, we know recovery is possible (even when we feel despair and hopelessness) – there are many effective steps and options for treating depression.

Depression can look different in men

In addition to the typical symptoms of depression, some men also experience other symptoms that are associated with what some researchers refer to as “male type” depression. These symptoms include:

  • Irritability and aggression
  • Physical pain
  • Risk taking/recklessness
  • Substance (alcohol, drugs) misuse

These symptoms can make it harder for us (as well as health professionals) to recognize depression in ourselves or others. But these are signs that something more serious may be going on, so it’s important not to ignore them.

The myths stop here

There are many misconceptions about depression that make it difficult for men to seek support and take charge of their health.

Some men mistakenly associate having depression with weakness, or reaching out with failure, which is perpetuated by the myths listed below. Click the boxes to see the reality that debunks these myths.

MythDepression is a sign of weakness.

RealityDepression is a real illness that can affect anyone - it has nothing to do with being tough.

Myth‘Real men’ don't share their emotions.

RealityConcealing our distress from others is a surefire way of feeling isolated and lonely, and is a key risk factor for suicidality.

MythFeeling sad or down is not manly.

RealitySadness is an emotion all humans feel, including men. Even the toughest men feel sad or down. It takes strength to acknowledge and share.

MythA guy with enough willpower should be able to 'snap out of it'.

RealityWe wouldn't expect someone to fix a broken arm with sheer willpower. The same is true for depression - we have to develop new skills to beat it.

MythMen should not ask for help; they should be able to cope on their own.

RealityReaching out for help is a way to build your team to tackle depression. It shows that you're taking control of your health.

These myths can feel like handcuffs, preventing men from reaching out for support until their depression is very severe, if at all. This places men at increased risk of taking their own lives. In fact, men account for 75-80% of deaths that occur by suicide, [1, 2, 3] with untreated depression being a leading risk factor. [4, 5]

It’s okay to talk about depression

Fortunately, more men (including famous athletes, celebrities, and musicians) are ‘going public’ about fighting depression and how they have taken back control of their health. These men are helping to break the stigma and pushing for society to recognize that depression is a common and serious issue, and that resources and support should be available for those who need it.

The myths are finally breaking down around men’s mental health, freeing guys to talk about and tackle depression. This will continue to get easier as more men step up and show that depression is not something that defines or controls our lives.

Preventing and managing depression

Ignoring or hiding the pain of depression won’t make it go away. This can instead lead to depression getting worse and making it more difficult to reach out and get the help we need.

Fighting depression starts with recognizing there is an issue, then making important changes in our lives to overcome it. Many men are often aware that something in their life isn’t quite right, but don’t know where to start or don’t believe recovery is possible. We need to shift our mindset and trust in the experience of others to know that recovery is possible.

With the right support system in place, we can take control of our health and lives.

HeadsUpGuys is here to support and guide you on this journey, by providing guidance, resources, and proven strategies, such as:

It takes courage, it takes strength, and it takes work, but depression can be beat – you are worth the effort.


  1. Public Health Agency of Canada. (2020). Suicide in Canada: Key Statistics (infographic) – Government of Canada.
  2. Mental Health Foundation. (2021). Men and mental health.
  3. Curtin, S. C., & Hedegaard, H. (2019). Suicide Rates for Females and Males by Race and Ethnicity: United States, 1999 and 2017. National Center for Health Statistics.
  4. Cavanagh, J. T., Carson, A. J., Sharpe, M., & Lawrie, S. M. (2003). Psychological autopsy studies of suicide: a systematic review. Psychological medicine, 33(3), 395–405.
  5. Lesage, A. D., Boyer, R., Grunberg, F., Vanier, C., Morissette, R., Ménard-Buteau, C., & Loyer, M. (1994). Suicide and mental disorders: a case-control study of young men. The American journal of psychiatry, 151(7), 1063–1068.