HEALTHY LIVING

How Men Experience Depression Differently Than Everyone Else

The condition isn't one size fits all.

11/01/2016 03:29 pm ET

Depression can be a real monster.

The mental health disorder, which affects nearly 350 million people worldwide, can include a range of emotional symptoms such as extreme sadness, loss of motivation and displeasure in activities and physical ailments like changes in appetite, severe headaches and digestive problems. But the condition goes far beyond the common symptoms ― particularly for men. Some of the warning signs may not be as glaringly obvious.

It’s estimated that 6 million men in America deal with depression in a given year, a disorder that can be managed with the right treatment. But experts say many men may not even recognize or acknowledge they have it, whether it be fear of judgment or mistaking their physical and emotional symptoms for another illness or just excess stress.

In honor of Movember, the November awareness month dedicated to men’s health, we rounded up just a few ways the condition can manifest differently in guys. Check out some of the symptoms below.

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Depression can look like anger.

Melancholy or excessive sadness is a hallmark sign of depression and can be prevalent in men. However, males are also more likely to experience increased frustration, anger and irritability. This is likely a reaction to their rise in negative emotions, Health.com reported.

Men are more likely to stay silent.

Research shows men are more averse to seeking help from a medical professional or reluctant to speak up if they’re experiencing depression. They also tend to downplay their symptoms. This is often due to fear of being judged or their own personal shame. Mental health stigma often prevents people from getting treatment.

They experience greater levels of fatigue.

Depression yields to an overwhelming desire to stay in bed all day and total exhaustion. This is particularly true for men, according to psychologists, and is likely to be one of their most prevalent symptoms.

Guys are less likely to be diagnosed with depression by a doctor.

Scientific evidence indicates there’s a gender bias when it comes to mental health conditions. Doctors are more likely to diagnose women with depression than men, even when guys are showing similar symptoms or rank the same as women on standardized measures of the disorder.

Depression lowers their sex drive.

While it’s not a major characteristic or sign that a person has depression, a reduction in sexual intimacy does happen. That’s because the brain and body are inextricably connected. Depression can alter a man’s libido and cause erectile dysfunction, according to experts.

Men are more likely to die by suicide.

When left untreated, mental health issues like depression are a major contributing factor in suicide. A 2015 report found that men are more likely to stay silent if they’re having thoughts of self harm. Middle-aged men also have seen the biggest growth in suicide rates over the last 15 years.

Ultimately, experts say it’s important for men to open up about any emotional difficulties. It could save a life.

“Men have a more difficult time acknowledging, describing or owning [mental illness] than women do,” John Greden, executive director of the University of Michigan Depression Center, previously told The Huffington Post. “Men need to recognize that this is not something they can just snap out of, and it’s most certainly not a sign of weakness.”

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.

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