According to a report by the World Health Organization, 300 million people suffer from depression globally. Women are more prone to depression than men; however, when men suffer from depression they are more likely to commit suicide.
Symptoms of a Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder is characterized by phases. The critical phase occurs when depressive symptoms persist for two weeks or more, continuously. The person becomes disinterested in all activities including personal grooming. Other major symptoms are:
- Notable weight-loss without dieting or sudden weight-gain with changes in eating habits
- Hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) or insomnia (hard to fall asleep) almost daily
- Psychomotor agitation (movement serving no purpose such as pacing up and down, fingers tapping or toes) or retardation. Such actions can happen daily.
- Feeling fatigued or lack of energy almost every day
- Feeling worthless or guilt with no reason
- Lack of concentration or ability to think and indecisiveness
- Suicidal ideation and thoughts of death that recur with no deadly plan
The symptoms of a major depressive disorder will usually affect a person’s ability to carry on with a normal life. They may become a recluse and isolate themselves from friends and family.
Men are at a higher risk for committing and actualizing suicide than women are. Depressed people may issue threats in order to derive sympathy and attention from others. In most instances, depressed men with suicidal thoughts will actually execute their suicide plans successfully.
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Signs of Depression in Men
There are changes in energy levels of men undergoing major depression. The changes can cause fatigue and psychomotor retardation. In other cases, there can be slowness in movement, speech, and thinking process.
One Clinical Psychologist of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Josh Klapow, PhD reports that depression fatigue is more prevalent in men than it is in women. This may present as either too much sleeping (hypersomnia) or too little sleeping (insomnia). Hypersomnia will be characterized by sleeping throughout the day as well as throughout the night. One can sleep for a couple of days, only taking breaks to feed. Insomnia is characterized by sleepless nights, early morning wakes and vivid dreams at night.
Dr Ian A. Cook, professor of psychiatry, University of California and the MD of Miller Family, observed that some people will still feel exhausted even after sleeping 12 hours a day. Others will experience intermittent sleep with waking up now and then.
Many men with depression will experience fatigue and troubled sleep, being one of their primary symptoms.
Stomach ache or backache
Diarrhea or constipation, back pain, and headaches are some of the health problems people with depression experience.
It may be hard to find a relationship between digestive disorders, chronic pain and depression. However, studies have found a link between such physical symptoms and depression.
According to one professor of psychiatry at New York University, Norman Sussman MD, a study conducted by the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) on focus groups showed a relationship between GI symptoms and depression. Dr Sussman concluded that depression is a medical disorder.
Irritability is another sign men with depression portray instead of feeling ‘down’. They may feel angry at the world and so they are irritated by any small thing. Nothing seems to afford them pleasure or fulfillment. This behavior may make depressed men lose friends because they are inflamed at the slightest provocation.
Men going through depression may process thoughts at a slower pace. As a result, they may find concentrating on a task to be difficult. This affects their performance of tasks as they are unable to meet deadlines or accomplish tasks. Tasks that need concentration such as hair combing may be put off for days on end.
Depression fills the mind with negative thoughts that affect one’s ability to process other thoughts. It is almost like the brain’s central processing unit (CPU) failing to work.
Hostility or Anger
Some men with depression would become angry, hostile or aggressive. When a man knows that there is something wrong with him and it is weakening him, he may try to fight it by aggressive and hostile. This is different from being irritable because it may propel one to violent actions. Pressure form family and friends to resume a “normal life” may worsen the feelings of anger and hostility.
People often mistake stress and depression. Stress is the pressure that one feels due to overwhelming events of life, real or perceived. When a person is depressed, they may perceive this as a stressor and vice versa, prolonged stress may cause depression.
It is usual to see a depressed man appearing very stressed. When the depression is treated, the stressor will consequently be relieved.
Abuse of Substance
The number of alcoholic people with depression is twice that of non-alcoholic people with depression. This portrays a strong relationship between alcohol abuse and depression.
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Men tend to use alcohol as a way to mask the strange feeling instead of looking for help. This gives them a safe haven to escape to when they cannot handle the pressure in their lives.
Erectile dysfunction and lack of sexual desire is another symptom of depression in men. When a man loses confidence in his abilities, he may not be able to “perform in bed.” To avoid this from happening and further expose his weakness, he may opt to avoid the act altogether.
Also, antidepressant use has been linked to erectile dysfunction.
Depressed people are inclined to feeling worthless, overwhelmed or that the world will be a better place without them.
While more women with depression attempt suicide, men are four times more likely to die in their attempt. It is because they use lethal methods in their suicide attempt such as firearms.
Treatment Of Depression In Men
Depression treatment would involve psychotherapy and medication, which is useful in most cases. This is especially effective when combined with lifestyle changes.
Daily exercise, improves sleeping routine and diet can assist in alleviating some symptoms of depression.
Psychotherapy involves different psychological techniques carried out by mental health practitioners to treat depression. Common psychotherapy techniques include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), talk therapy and problem-solving therapy. Psychotherapy equips a depressed person to:
- Handle crises positively
- Replace negative thoughts and beliefs by identifying them
- Rebuild positive connections in experiences and relationships
- Learn ways to use in solving problems
- Recognize issues that led to depression and know how to handle them
- Lay practical goals
- Learn how to manage distress and stress
Only a medical practitioner can prescribe the best drug to treat depression. Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs) are two of the drugs that doctors prescribe for depression as an effective treatment. Other medications that may be prescribed are norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRI), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI), and others.
Individuals respond differently to different medication. It is essential to report any side effects of treatment intended to treat depression. Unless told to do so, never discontinue the use of your prescribed antidepressant medication. Stopping at once can cause serious withdrawal symptoms.
Hospitalization is essential for depression in severe cases. The Psychiatric would easily monitor the patient to note physiological changes that may necessitate emergency treatment. It is the best solution for suicidal depression cases as being in a hospital setting would keep the person safe from suicide attempts.
Not all who attempt suicide actually accomplish it. Those who attempt suicide intending to end their lives can change if they get excellent practical and emotional support. With such help, a depressed person can change from the depressive situation to live a fruitful and complete life.
Those who are suicidal fail to see the broader picture of life. They condense their experience of life to the few things that are not working. Most times, it is not the severity of the situation that pushes one to suicide. Rather, it is one’s perception of their predicament that drives them to suicide.
It is, therefore, the duty of family members or people around the depressed person to offer all the support they can give. They should be ready to listen and to provide encouragement when the depressed person is at the lowest. Friends and family of such a person should try to challenge those preconceptions of inability and unworthiness.
Make your relatives start to see the big picture of life ahead and to know their worthiness in society.