In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the symptoms of depression in men and what you can do about them.
First a quick update:
“Dating – Are STDs a deal breaker?”
Read my quotes in the article in Men’s Health about how to approach dating when you have STDs.
Now, lets’ talk about depression in men, how to identify it and what do to about it.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women suffer from depression more than men, and women suffer more than men from frequent mental distress. Women report feeling stressed, depressed, or having problems with their emotions fourteen or more days out of the month.
A nationwide survey of one million adults found the prevalence of adults who reported poor mental health on 14 or more days in a month increased from 8.4 percent in 1993 to 10.1 percent in 2001. And in the latest data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) – 2005-2006, women suffer from depression almost twice as much as men.
However, depression in men is much more dangerous than in women, because most men ignore it, deny it or respond to it with high-risk behavior.
- Men are 15 times more likely than women to go to prison, more likely to be obese, alcoholic and unemployed
- Men account for 80% of all suicides in the US
- The male suicide rate at midlife triples and then increases seven fold for men over 65
- 60-80% of depressed adults never get professional help
- Depression in men is often not properly diagnosed. According to Jed Diamond in his book, “Male Menopause”, it can take up to ten years and three health professionals to properly diagnose depression.
Unfortunately, depression is often viewed as a medical condition (a mental illness – a chemical imbalance in the brain, an organic neurological disorder) rather than the result of mental and emotional factors – stress, life changes, loss of meaning and purpose and being mentally & emotionally overwhelmed which, in turn, creates physical symptoms.
So what are the primary signs and indicators of depression in men?
The website www.MenGetDepression.com identifies three key areas:
- Pain: Headaches, stomach problems, or pain that doesn’t seem to be from other causes or that doesn’t respond to normal treatments
- Risk Taking: Dangerous sports, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, and casual sex
- Anger: Road rage, having a short temper, being easily upset by criticism, and even becoming violent
The Mayo Clinic adds these symptoms:
- Escapist behavior, such as spending a lot of time at work or on sports
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- Controlling, violent or abusive behavior
- Inappropriate anger
- Risky behavior, such as reckless driving
- Infidelity or unhealthy sexual relationships
The one that I see most common in depressed men is withdrawal. When women experience stress, their first response is to ‘tend and befriend’; they turn to friends for support, they identify and verbalize their feelings & emotions, they ask for affection. On the other hand, men do the opposite and withdraw, isolating themselves and are often unable to identify and verbalize their feelings and unlike women who seek release by talking it out and asking for help, men seek release via risk-taking behavior or they bottle it up and explode with anger and irritability, blaming others and the world.
For men, the greatest challenge is denial; men believe they are supposed to “be strong” and often only speak about the physical aspects of their situation such as sleeping problems, fatigue and headaches. Men fail to recognize the link between their mental & emotional state and their physical & sexual state.
While women suffering from depression will tend to blame themselves, believing that they are not good enough and need to be better, men will blame others – claiming the solution to their problems is that someone else has to be better and has to treat them better (spouse, co-worker, parent or friend.) Depressed women will believe they are not loveable enough while depressed men will complain that they are not being loved and appreciated enough.
Here are some other common signs, especially if they last for a few weeks or months:
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or like a failure
- Feeling restless and/or irritable
- Having no energy
- Problems sleeping (not sleeping or sleeping too much)
- Feeling angry or violent
- Feeling like you can’t work or get things done
- Using alcohol or drugs to feel better
- Sexual inability
- Losing interest in hobbies, work, and/or sex
- Having problems focusing, remembering, or making choices
- Missing work, class, or appointments
- Not caring about anything or feeling “blank”
- Always feeling sad or nervous
- Changes in appetite and/or weight
- Working too much
- Feeling alone
- Being negative about everything
- Thinking about death or suicide
It is important to understand that even though men and women generally respond and display different signs of depression, the state of being depressed can also vary greatly for each individual. Both men and women can feel so extraordinarily overwhelmed that they can shut down, isolate themselves or even hide their real feelings and emotions. Men are the best at hiding what they really feel (and escaping via substances to mask pain or recreate a positive feeling) and as such can fool their friends until one day, something extreme happens – in some cases, suicide. Constant agony is often one of the primary motivating factors leading to suicide but unfortunately, most friends and family fail to recognize that it even exists in their friend or partner, particularly if he is trying to hide it.
Before mentioning what I believe to be the single greatest cause of depression in men, here are some resources.
Read my article, “How to conquer depression”
Listen to the conversation and interview between myself and Psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin, author of “Medication Madness: A Psychiatrist Exposes the Dangers of Mood-Altering Medications.” Dr Breggin reveals that there is no scientific evidence that depression is a chemical imbalance while also revealing the real causes of ADD and ADHD and offering real solutions for overcoming depression and finding happiness. Click here to listen.
Now, let me share what I believe to be the single greatest cause of depression in men: a lack of meaning, purpose and spirituality. Too many people have attached their value and identity to success in the form of money, material possessions and of course, popularity and fame. This not only applies to celebrities, but to the average, everyday person. We continue to seek something outside of ourselves in the hope and false belief that it will fill an inner emptiness. Men have been raised to think that happiness, self-worth and recognition will come from amassing fortunes or establishing financial stability (the home, car, business, college fund for children, etc.) And yet, many middle aged men awake to find they have all this stuff and yet still feel lost, empty, angry and a failure. The reason is simple: the real sense of satisfaction and contentment comes from having a purpose and meaning that is greater than simply the accumulation of physical things. There is nothing wrong with any of that stuff but real joy comes from helping others – focusing on love and relationships, making a difference and finding a purpose that benefits others and not just yourself. One of the six key human emotional needs is Contribution which adds to meaning and purpose as well as significance. If you are going to build an empire for your children, then sit down now and enjoy it with them. As I said to one client recently, “your children ask for and want stuff, but what they really need is your love, attention, validation and approval. Remember, what you really wanted? Your dad’s time, attention, and his love & approval.” Spirituality is about serving others. (Read my article “Getting your six needs”)
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.