Depression is a real medical condition THAT CAN AFFECT YOUR BODY, THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS, AND BEHAVIOUR.
Depression is different from normal sadness in that it consumes your day-to-day life and interferes with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and have fun. The feelings you have when depressed – such as helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness – can be intense and unrelenting.
The symptoms of depression in men described in this section can be part of life’s normal ebbs and flows and don’t always signal depression. But the more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they’ve lasted—the more likely it is that you’re dealing with depression.
Common symptoms of depression
“HeadsUpGuys helped me understand my depression and be able to recognize potential symptoms in others.” – Age 27, Canada
There are some common symptoms of depression anyone can experience, which can include being withdrawn, losing interest in friends and activities you used to enjoy, and difficulty concentrating on things.
Depressed mood or irritable
You feel down or irritated most of the day, nearly every day.
Decreased interest or pleasure
You lose interest in doing things you used to enjoy, such as sports, hobbies, movies, or hanging out with your friends.
Significant weight change or change in appetite
Your weight and appetite are a lot less or a lot more than usual.
Change in sleep
You find yourself sleeping too little or too much.
Change in activity
You feel as if everything (speech, thinking, moving) is slowed. The opposite can also occur, whereby you feel very agitated and almost jumpy (such as finding it tough to sit still, pacing, hand-wringing).
Fatigue or loss of energy
You feel low on energy, even when you haven’t exerted yourself. This fatigue isn’t alleviated by rest or sleep.
You have negative and unrealistic feelings of guilt or about being worthless.
You have trouble thinking or concentrating, or making decisions.
You have thoughts of death or suicide, or have a suicide plan.
Other symptoms of depression in men
Researchers are beginning to recognize that men often don’t acknowledge feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or guilt. They may be more likely to deny these types of feelings, or try to mask or hide them with other behaviours. When depressed, men can become irritable and aggressive, work compulsively, isolate themselves from friends and family, drink more than normal, and engage in high risk activities.
Sometimes depression in men can show up as backache, frequent headaches, sleep problems, sexual dysfunction, or digestive problems that don’t seem to respond to normal treatment.
This can include irritability, being overly sensitive to criticism, losing your sense of humour, experiencing frequent road rage, having a short temper, being controlling, or being verbally or physically abusive toward others.
You might find yourself engaging in escaping or risky behaviour. This could mean pursuing dangerous sports, driving recklessly, or engaging in unsafe sex. You might drink too much, abuse drugs, or gamble compulsively.
Depression is different for each person
Depression affects everyone in different ways, which means your particular symptoms are unique to you. For example, one person might not have enough energy to even get out of bed, while another person might feel constantly edgy and restless. One might feel really down all the time and break into tears seemingly for no reason. The other might snap angrily at the smallest irritation. One person might never seem hungry, while the other eats constantly. The two people might both say they feel down in the dumps, but how that actually feels for them could be very different. Also, the symptoms you feel and experience may vary in intensity and duration over time.
Adapted from the Harvard Special Report on Depression.
Depression is treatable
Depression doesn’t come on suddenly–it can slowly creep up and before you know it, you’re caught in its grip. Recognizing depression is the first step to preventing or stopping it from controlling your life.
You wouldn’t attempt to heal a broken leg by simply toughing it out. Treat depression the same way you would treat any other serious injury or illness.
For more specific support on handling intense emotions, negative thoughts, low self-worth, problems with interpersonal relationships and other issues, talk therapy is a great option – designed specifically to work on these types of challenges. For help finding a therapist in your area, see our HeadsUpGuys Therapist Directory.
Rice, S., Oliffe, J., Kealy, D., Seidler, Z., & Ogrodniczuk, J. (2020). Men’s help-seeking for depression: Attitudinal and structural barriers in symptomatic men. Journal of Primary Care and Community Health, 11. https://doi.org/10.1177/2150132720921686