More than 6 million men in the U.S. 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 with depression, however it can manifest in different ways in many different 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 may try to hide their depression through unusual behavior, as many see it as a weakness, which may include fighting with their spouses, losing interest in sports or sex, working excessive hours at their jobs, and becoming withdrawn or even more uncommunicative.
As the condition worsens, some may even express an increase in physical complaints, increased irritability, or even seek out high-risk activities such as substance abuse, unprotected sex or reckless driving.
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 most important steps men can take is establishing a support system of family and friends who they can rely on.
Some other steps men can take in order to 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 important 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 determines that no such cause is found, then ask him or her 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 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 make things better?
- Do research. Look on the Internet for information on depression, or get books from the library or bookstore. Not only will be able to learn more about this disorder, and what you can do for it, but you can do it in private.