February 26, 2024

Depression in Men – The Top 10 Most Surprising Facts

Depression strikes both sexes but depression in women is more often studied and treated than depression in men – so much so that depression is often viewed as a woman’s disorder. The fact is that depression strikes over six million men in the U.S. each year.

Depression in men often goes undiagnosed and untreated for reasons including cultural and societal expectations and differing symptoms that may not be recognized as indicators of depression. Learning more information about men’s depression and its symptoms can help save lives.

Depression in Men: Top 10 Surprising Facts

Here are 10 facts about depression in men that most people don’t know:

1. Depression in men is much more common than people think.

Although depression tends to strike women more frequently than men, a significant percentage of men report symptoms of depression. A 2009 Depression research study reported that 12 percent of American women experience depression annually compared to 6.6 percent of men.

These statistics may not reflect the number of men who do not seek treatment – often because they feel uncomfortable admitting to feelings of depression and sometimes don’t let people help them, and also because their symptoms may not be immediately recognized as related to depression.

The consequences for untreated depression in men may be severe including leading to suicide or certain illnesses such as heart disease.

2. Male Depression is different from depression in women.

Both sexes report depression symptoms that can include feelings of sadness, lack of energy and worthlessness but men tend to experience other symptoms that may not be immediately recognized as having a connection to depression.

A research report by the Mayo Clinic on male clinical depression notes that expressing anger, hostility or other symptoms may be more acceptable for men to shown than admitting to sadness.

3.  Women who are depressed may manifest the familiar symptoms of depression such as sadness, crying and withdrawal but these are symptoms not often seen in men who are depressed.

Depression in men may turn outward in anger and irritability, rather than inward in feelings of worthlessness, so it’s important to know these symptoms of male depression:


  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Indecision
  • Lack of interest in sexual or other activities
  • Backaches and other muscle aches
  • Stomach and digestive problems
  • Sleep disorders

4. Older men may show different signs of depression than younger men.

A MedicineNet report on depression in older men states that the highest suicide rate in the United States is found among older (over 55) white men. For older adults and male older adults in particular a diagnosis of depression is often not made for various reasons.

The main reason is that in general depression in older men manifests with symptoms such as social withdrawal from relationships and activities, and chronic pain rather than the anger and hostility often experienced by younger men. Sometimes people think these are normal signs of aging rather than depression. Once a medical reason for these symptoms is ruled out, care should be taken by the patient’s doctor or medical health professional to provide a proper diagnosis as the person may be medically healthy but have mental depression.

In addition, it can also be difficult to separate symptoms of depression from conditions such as dementia or other chronic and acute illnesses.

5.  Depression in men has been linked to breathing problems while sleeping.

Sleep problems – sleeping too much or too little, or waking up during the night – can be a sign of depression in men. Sleep apnea – a condition in which a person’s breathing is paused or interrupted during sleep – has been linked to depression, and a 2012 study on sleep apnea and depression conducted by the Center for Disease Control reported that twice as many men as women in the study reported having been diagnosed with sleep apnea.

6.  A number of other surprising factors can cause depression in men.

These include:


  • Seasonal affective disorder, a condition believed to be related to lower levels of light during winter months, which affect brain centers controlling mood;
  • Medications, including those commonly prescribed for high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, some antibiotics and benzodiazepines, used to treat anxiety and muscle spasms;
  • Loss of a family member or friend, job or other major change in circumstances;
  • Stress due to work, financial or home issues
  • Chronic illness
  • History of Depression or Bipolar Disorder

7.  Male depression can be treated in a variety of ways.

Once diagnosed, depression in men can be treated in a variety of ways, and treatment methods are often combined for maximum effectiveness.


  • Antidepressant medications affect brain chemistry that controls mood, and are often helpful in reducing the initial symptoms of depression.
  • Talk therapy – counseling, psychotherapy and groups – can also help the depressed person feel better, particularly in combination with medications.
  • In cases of severe depression, electroshock therapy may be helpful.

8.  A variety of self-help options, used alone or in conjunction with other treatments, may also help ease the symptoms of depression in men.

These include:


  • Changes in diet – eating more fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet and eliminating sugar, caffeine and processed foods filled with additives, may help to stabilize mood;
  • Exercise and increased phsyical fitness boosts the production of endorphins, which elevate mood and well-being;
  • Alternative practices such as meditation or yoga can promote relaxation and help depression;
  • Natural remedies such as chamomile tea and St. Johns Wort may ease depression symptoms.

Man with Depression9.  Left untreated, depression can have serious consequences for overall health.

Depression can be a factor in recovery from heart attacks and other serious illnesses. Depressed individuals may not take medications as prescribed or take an interest in caring for themselves.

They may eat poorly or not at all, and disrupted sleep patterns can lead to daytime fatigue and a depressed immune system that fails to defend against illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

In addition, depressed individuals may make poor decisions about their health and engage in risky behaviors, or self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. Also, untreated depression may hide symptoms of other serious illness.

10.  Men suffering from major depression have a greater risk of suicide than women with depression, and when they do attempt suicide, men are more likely to succeed.

According to a recent Mayo Clinic report on depression, the increased rate of suicide among depressed men may be due to men’s reluctance to admit to depression and to seek help before the condition worsens. While the social stigma of depression in men may be disappearing some men might still fear appearing weak or unstable if they admit to the problem.

A 2010 study by the US Center for Disease Control found that men are over 75% more likely to attempt suicide than women, and more men succeed in killing themselves using methods such as guns.

If you or a family member has depression

If you think you, a family member or friend may have depression there are resources, services and tools available to help. Check with your doctor or health care professional for a proper diagnosis and a personal treatment guide suited to your circumstances.

If the depression is of mild type a person may be able to manage it through self help methods but for some moderate and all severe depressions, treatment should be sought from a medical professional.

Depression can strike anyone, at any age. For men, knowing the symptoms of depression and what to do about them can make the difference between life and death.

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