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Article. Published on May 10, 2018.

Depression and Anxiety in Men

Depression in Men

In the year 2015, 322 million people were said to have suffered from Depression. These figures are only expected to rise in the coming future. According to the WHO, because disorders such as depression and anxiety have lower level of recognition and access to aid, there is a global loss of one trillion US dollars every year. Men tend to be diagnosed with depression less often than women. While this could partly be attributed to genetics and biology, there are other reasons, as seen below, as to why men are not diagnosed with depression as often as women.

Failure to recognize symptoms of depression in men: Men are often less likely to be diagnosed with depression because it is more likely to manifest with different primary symptoms:
  • Physical symptoms: such as back aches, frequent headaches, digestive problems, tiredness, sleep issues and sexual dysfunction. These symptoms are largely psychosomatic, i.e., they are physical problems that are caused due to mental distress, in this case, due to depression.
  • Anger: Men are more likely than women to express anger and irritability when suffering from depression. Sometimes, this anger could turn violent, and in a few extreme cases, the person suffering from depression may become abusive.
  • Reckless behaviour: Men suffering from depression may exhibit risky behaviour such as substance abuse or engage in activities that could potentially expose themselves or other people to harm. Men with depression are also likely to suffer from a co-occuring substance abuse disorder.

Recommended treatment for these complaints is likely to focus on alleviating the symptoms rather than addressing the underlying issue. In this case, the focus would be on treating headaches or substance abuse instead of treating the underlying depression.

Downplaying symptoms of Depression
Downplaying symptoms of depression:

Men are likely to downplay any symptoms of mental illness that they recognize, in order to avoid appearing “weak” and “vulnerable”. Traditionally, societal norms do not allow men to admit any sort of internal distress, and hence, men tend to ignore, suppress and mask their symptoms of depression.

Resisting treatment for the mental illness:

This inability to discuss their mental distress spills over to a reluctance to address these issues. Men suffering from depression may believe that the stigma associated with it could affect their career or social standing. This leads them to either completely deny their mental illness in the first place, or refuse to seek treatment for the same, even though they may recognize that they need help. It is crucial that men suffering from depression visit a mental health professional who will be able to guide them through a tailored mode of treatment just for them.

In order to reduce and prevent the epidemic of depression in India, we need to learn more about the different ways it can manifest in men and women. Understanding that men too, are susceptible to depression can aid in increasing awareness about the issue and tackling it in a more well-rounded manner. Furthermore, recognizing gender disparities in signs and symptoms can aid in proving supportment and treatment to populations that would otherwise be overlooked. At the moment, psychologists focus on treating symptoms over the disorders - incorporating more attention to detail, particularly focussing on how signs of depression manifest differently for men and women can aid in decreasing the rate of depression overall.

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