Male Depression Looks Different

Image of Depressed Man

Mental Illness Symptoms

Mental illness is a difficult challenge for anyone to face. It can affect men and women of any age. But because mental illness can cause different symptoms in men than in women, some disorders in men may be harder to recognize.

Men and women who are depressed may feel many of the same symptoms, such as a continually sad or irritable mood; trouble concentrating; a striking change in appetite and energy; feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or worthlessness; lack of interest in life; and/or suicidal thoughts. But men often show different signs of the condition.

Men who are depressed may not cry or talk about their feelings, or even hint that they're thinking about suicide. Men with depression may try harder to hide their symptoms and, as a result, may become angry and aggressive. They may also be more prone to seek relief through alcohol or drugs.

“Many men have difficulty communicating what they're feeling and figuring out how to talk about their situation which makes them less likely to seek help,” said local psychologist, Marcia Wiinamaki, PsyD. “Some may also see it as a sign of weakness rather than a treatable illness.”

If you are suffering it's important to know that you have nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. Getting treatment and learning coping mechanisms can help bring these disorders under control.

Here are some important first steps:

  • Seek medical attention. Your healthcare provider is used to dealing with these issues. He or she can help you get the treatment you need. In some cases, you may be able to resolve your problems with therapy rather than medicine.
  • Find healthier ways of sharing your feelings. It can be tempting to yell or act out or turn to drugs or alcohol when you are feeling unhappy. But instead of lashing out in anger, breathe deeply, count to 10, and allow yourself some time to calm down.
  • Manage your stress. Stress at work and at home can worsen the symptoms of many mental illnesses. Don't feel guilty about taking time for yourself to do things you enjoy. You may also want to see if deep breathing, meditation, or stretching help you relax.
  • Get regular exercise. Research suggests that daily exercise can help relieve the symptoms of depression, and that people who exercise regularly in their leisure time are less likely to suffer from this mood disorder.
  • Take care of yourself. You deserve it. Besides exercising regularly, get plenty of sleep and eat nutritious meals with lots of fruits and vegetables. Avoid drug and alcohol abuse. Being gentle with yourself can put you into a better frame of mind to deal with your mood disorder.

Don't be afraid to talk to a healthcare provider about unusual moods or symptoms you are experiencing. Counselors and psychologists are generally able to assess for depression and anxiety within one session through www.lakelandhealth.org/physicians.

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