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What Are the Signs of Depression in Men? Here's How to Get Help

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More than 6 million men in the United States experience depression each year. With so many men undergoing this condition, we may think we can easily pick up on the signs that a loved one may be suffering from depression. Still, it can be displayed in different ways in many other people, and men may have symptoms unlike those experienced by women.

What makes things even more difficult in recognizing the signs in men is that they may try to hide their depression through unusual behavior, as many see depression and depressed moods as a weakness. This behavior might include:

  • Fighting with their spouses
  • Losing interest in formerly enjoyable activities or sex.
  • Working excessive hours at their jobs
  • Becoming withdrawn or even more uncommunicative

There are many potential triggers for these behavioral changes, such as a move, a new job, losing a job, the passing of a loved one, financial issues, divorce, and prolonged physical illnesses.

As the condition worsens, some individuals may even express increased physical complaints and changes in eating habits and sleeping patterns. Some may avoid hobbies or social activities that once brought them enjoyment or reach out less to friends and family and isolate themselves from others. This emotional ‘bottling up’ can then lead to increased irritability, outbursts of anger and frustration, or even seeking out high-risk activities such as alcoholism as a way of coping, other substance abuse or unprotected sex.

If left untreated, depression in men can lead to further withdrawal and isolation, or even worse, harm to themselves, as men suffer a higher rate of depression-related suicide. So, what are some things men can do to preserve their mental health?

One of the men's most important steps is establishing a support system of family and friends they can rely on. Some other steps men can take to help maintain a healthy state of mind include the following:

  • Seek help: If you know something isn’t right, getting appropriate treatment for depression early on is essential in preventing the condition from getting worse. Start with a physical exam by your healthcare provider. It’s also important to seek out a physician because sometimes the signs of depression can mirror symptoms caused by other medical conditions or even medications— so having those possibilities ruled out first is pertinent. If your provider finds no such cause, ask them to refer you to a psychologist, therapist or psychiatrist.
  • Exercise regularly: Not only does it make you feel good, but numerous studies have shown that exercise and lifestyle changes can combat depression and stress almost as well as some medications.

  • Evaluate your life: Are you happy in your job and relationships? If not, what can you do to improve them?

  • Do research: Not only will you be able to learn more about this disorder and what you can do about it, but you can also do it in private and from the comfort of a familiar setting.
  • Consider therapy: Talk therapy and counseling can provide the necessary tools to navigate life's challenges. Having a confidential space to express your feelings and a trained professional to guide you can significantly improve your mental health. If you feel isolated or lack a supportive network, therapy with a professional can be instrumental in helping you work through your issues and provide a nonjudgmental outside perspective.

Did you know you can see a licensed therapist though an Ochsner virtual visit?

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