Depression and Men: key facts
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What is depression?
We all have times when we feel depressed.
sometimes depression goes on for a long time and become severe. You
may be unable to lift yourself out of it. This is what doctors call
Is depression different for men?
In general men are more competitive than
women. We don’t like to admit that we need help. We are less
likely to talk about our feelings with others. This may be
why men don’t get the help they need. Some symptoms of
depression are more common in men. These include
irritability, anger, loss of control, greater risk-taking and
aggression. Men are also more likely to take their own lives.
How do men deal with depression?
We are more likely to use drugs and
alcohol than asking for help.This usually makes things
worse. Our work suffers and alcohol can lead us to
behave irresponsibly or dangerously. We may also
focus more on our work than our relationships or home
life.This can cause conflicts with partners. All of these things
make depression more likely.
What factors are linked to depression in men?
- Relationships: trouble in a
marriage or long-term relationship is the most common problem
associated with depression. Men tend not to cope with disagreements
as well as women. Arguments can make men feel uncomfortable so
they try to avoid disagreements and difficult discussions.
For example, their partner will want to talk about a problem,
but the man will try to avoid it. The partner then feels
ignored and tries to talk about it more, which makes the man feel
he is being nagged. So, he withdraws further, which makes his
partner feel even more ignored and so on. This can destroy a
- Sex: when men are depressed,
they may go off sex completely. A few depressed men report an
increase in sex drive and intercourse, possibly as a way of
trying to feel better. Some antidepressant drugs reduce
sex-drive in men and women. However, the good news is that, as
the depression improves, so will sexual desire.
- Impotence: difficulty in
getting an erection can cause depression.
- Unemployment and retirement:
leaving work, for any reason, can be stressful. One in seven men
who become unemployed will get depressed within six months. And
then, depression can make it harder to get another job.
- Suicide: men are three
times more likely than women to kill themselves. You are more
likely to have these feelings if you are on your won or a heavy
- If you’ve had a major upset in your life, try
to tell someone how you feel about it.
- Keep active. This will help to keep
you fit and you will sleep better.
- Eat a balanced diet, with lots of fruit and
- Avoid alcohol and drugs. They will make you
more depressed in the long run.
- Try relaxation methods. For example
yoga, massage or aromatherapy.
- Do something you enjoy at least once a
- If you are a perfectionist, you may be
driving yourself too hard. Try setting yourself more realistic
- Read about depression. Books and websites can
give you ideas on how to cope.
Think about depression differently
It can help to see depression as a result of
chemical changes in the brain and/or as the cost of living in
stressful times. It can affect the strongest person, but it
can be treated. Both talking and medication can be important
ways to help you get better.
The place to start is your GP who can go over
your treatment options, and discuss any worries you have about
confidentiality. You may be concerned that being depressed could
damage your chances in work. Remember, in the UK, it is illegal for
an employer to fire you - or not hire you - just because you have
Depression may be due to physical illness, so
you should get a physical check-up from your GP.
This is an abridged version of our main
leaflet on 'Depression in
Produced by the Royal College of
Psychiatrists' Public Education Editorial Board, chaired by Dr Phil
This leaflet is made available through the
generosity of the Charitable Monies Allocation Committee of the
mental health charity St Andrew's, Northampton
© November 2012. Due for review:
November 2014. The Royal College of
Psychiatrists. You can link to, download, print,
photocopy and distribute this leaflet free of charge. But you must
not change it or repost it on a website.
Please note that we are unable to offer advice on individual cases. Please see our
advice on getting help.
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