Depression is more than just feeling sad. It’s a feeling that goes beyond “snap out of it!” And, unfortunately, it’s often misdiagnosed as the symptoms are different in men than in women.
Research points out that men have trouble saying out loud, “I have depression,” because of societal pressure to always be strong. Is the stigma worth your mental health though?
According to studies, professionals look for the same symptoms of depression in men as in women: sadness, increased emotions or fatigue. Women also tend to be more open about their emotions in general and will acknowledge when they feel sad or hopeless, while men are usually reluctant to speak about their feelings.
The good news: there’s always help!
According to the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, differing hormones in men and women is one of the major reasons for conflicting symptoms. The female hormone, oestrogen, is an important contributing factor for depression in women. In men, testosterone is often linked to anger and irritability (which can still manifest as depression).
Common symptoms to look out for:
- Physical pain like backache, headaches or stomach cramps
- Unexplained anger, aggression or irritability
- An unexplained change in sleeping patterns
- A decreased sexual appetite
- A feeling of hopelessness
- A lack of interest in hobbies or usual sport activities
- Reckless behaviour like drunk or dangerous driving.
What can I do about depression?
Don’t take these symptoms lightly. It’s important to get help. You don’t want to let this condition grow into something that can lead to suicide.
- Talk to a therapist about the symptoms you’re experiencing.
- Go easy on alcohol and nicotine which can further spark mood changes.
- Talk to your doctor about antidepressants as a treatment. They make take some time to be effective, so be patient.
- A 30-minute walk may not be the magic cure to lift you out of depression, but exercise is a proven way to release endorphins in your body – giving you a feeling of happiness and contentment.
- Distraction is a technique to consider. If you feel like you’re going down an endless spiral, try to get up immediately and distract yourself with something that takes effort, like raking up the leaves, painting a room, or rearranging furniture.
- The importance of sleep cannot be emphasised enough. We need quality sleep for the body and mind to function at its best.
- There’s no shame in needing a shoulder to cry on. If you’re at the end of your tether, call a friend, relative or even a helpline. Having someone just listen is often all you need in the moment.
Help your loved one
If you suspect that a partner or family member is suffering, it might be difficult to get him to open up about his feelings. Take the soft approach at first. Tell him you’ve noticed that he seems down or anxious. It’s important to be clear that you’re trying to help, because you’ve noticed changes in his behaviour over a while. Don’t be confrontational, it’s not about attacking or putting the person on their guard.
What NOT to do:
Don’t say things like, “Just be happy!” or, “But you have no reason to be depressed.” Depression is a mental health condition; it’s not just something you can snap out of even if your life is “going well”. If the person says anything remotely related to suicide, take it seriously and get help from their family or friends.
The most important thing you can do is offer to hear him, to just listen, with no judgements. If you feel out of your depth, offer help in the form of a therapist or counsellor: you could save a life!
- Albert, PR, Why is depression more prevalent in women? Journal of Psychiatry and Neurosciences, July 2015,
- (URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4478054/)