July 13, 2024

Top 10 Signs of Depression in Men

Historically, depression has been seen as a woman’s illness.  However, no one has immunity against depression.  Men and children are just as likely to become affected by the disorder.  Yet, whereas women will reach out for help, and parents will seek treatment for their children, men generally suffer in silence.  Depression in men is under-reported, either because men are unaware that their symptoms are related to depression or they fear the stigma that is attached to depression.  They are often in denial about their symptoms.

Oftentimes, it takes the love and support of a wife, mother, girlfriend or significant other to steer a depressed male towards treatment.  While some of the symptoms in isolation may indicate other disorders, depression should especially be suspected when symptoms appear in clusters.

The Top 10 Signs of Depression in Men

The symptoms below are commonly seen in men suffering from depression.

Hostile feelings and/or uncontrolled anger

Depressed men may feel powerless and lacking control.  The perceived powerlessness might be countered by anger and hostility that is directed at loved ones, co-workers or the general public.  The anger may even lead to instances of extreme impatience and road rage.

Lack of motivation and excessive fatigue

Depression places additional stress on the body, and fatigue is one of its physical manifestations.  It reduces energy levels and increases the disinclination towards any kind of physical activity.  It even slows thoughts and speech.

Substance abuse

Depressed men are more likely to display a dependence on alcohol or illicit drugs.  Researchers don’t know whether substance abuse leads to depression or substance abuse is a way to self medicate for depression.  Either way, substance abuse makes depression worse and depression can increase the severity of an already existing drug or alcohol problem.

Sexual problems

This is something of a catch-22 situation.  Depression causes sexual problems, and sexual problems lead to depression.  Men place an unfair burden on themselves where sexuality is concerned, and problems such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejection can affect them negatively.

Changes in appetite

Depressed men will often either overeat or not eat enough.  Many times, for those with substance abuse issues alcohol replaces meals.

Changes in sleep patterns

Men will either over-sleep, or not sleep enough.  A typical pattern is daytime sleeping and nighttime wakefulness.

Intellectual Impairment

Memory and other cognitive functions are compromised by depression due to changes in brain chemicals that is a result or caused by depression.

Extreme stress

Men invariably refer to their depression as stress, and excessive and prolonged stress does lead to depression.

Thoughts of suicide/attempted suicide

The overwhelming feelings of sadness, guilt and worthlessness lead many men to contemplate and indeed commit suicide.

Physical pain

Men report various bodily aches that don’t seem to respond to treatment.

Every man who has depression may not exhibit every one of these signs of depression.  Each individual is unique but these are the ten most common signs of depression in men so a man with depression is likely to have at least some of these symptoms.

Treatment Options for Male Depression

Studies confirm that a two-pronged approach works best for treating depression in men.  This treatment protocol combines talk therapy and prescription drugs.  The psychological therapy may be carried out as part of a group or on an individual basis.   The prescription drug medication most often prescribed is antidepressants.

It has been reported that dietary changes can alleviate some of the symptoms of depression.  A diet of junk food is not conducive to good health.  Balanced meals that provide essential nutrients have a remarkably positive effect on the functioning of the mind and the body.

Physical activity has been shown to be beneficial against depression.  Exercise increases the levels of endorphins in the brain.  This in turn moderates mood and creates a feeling of well-being.  A depressed man who is listless and unmotivated may find it difficult to begin an exercise program, however.  Nevertheless, exercise is highly encouraged, especially when psychotherapy and medication improve symptoms.

The adoption of stress management techniques and lifestyle changes can maximize treatment.

Addressing physical symptoms and underlying causes are doubly effective, and lessens the chances of recurrence.

The Risks to Men if Depression is Left Untreated

It is imperative that men seek out and receive early treatment for their depression.  Failure to do so puts them at increased risk in a number of ways:

Depressed Man– Depressed men are more likely to engage in highly dangerous behaviors, putting themselves and perhaps others in harm’s way.  These risks might include careless driving and casual or unprotected sexual intercourse with many partners.

– Untreated depression increases the risk of suicide.  The National Institutes of Mental Health notes that the risk of death by suicide is quadrupled for men, compared to women.

– Besides self-harm, depressed men can pose a danger to others if their depression is severe enough.  Uncontrolled anger can easily give way to acts of violence.

– Men suffering from untreated depression often engage in compulsive behaviors such as gambling, excessive intake of alcohol and illicit drug-taking.  These behaviors can derail educational pursuits, ruin careers or shatter relationships.

– Men have an increased chance of developing heart disease if their depression is not treated.


It is reported that a quarter of the adult male population suffers from depression but, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health, four out of every five men gain relief from depression when they receive proper treatment.  That is a reassuring 80 percent success rate.

Men’s reluctance to seek treatment for depression is well-documented.  However, in the past few years greater national attention has been focused on their plight.  The website, Men get Depression, highlights the national debates and outreach programs that have attempted to raise public awareness about the prevalence of the disorder and its devastating effects on men.  The website also offers a link to useful resources.

The difference between depression in men and women

While changes in mood are present in men and women, the sexes differ in their presentations of symptoms.  Male and female responses to depression appear to be polarized.  For example, whereas women engage in self-blame, men blame other people.  Women shun conflict but men seem to create it.  Women talk about their feelings which provides a form of release.  Men, in contrast, tend to internalize their feelings which can make their depression worse.  Thoughts of suicide are common to both male and female sufferers, but whereas women use the attempt of suicide as a cry for help, men are many times more likely to actually kill themselves.


Depression cuts across all ethnic, religious, social and economic classes, and negatively impacts the potential of a worryingly large percentage of men.  Given the risks that attend untreated depression, and the heavy toll that symptoms of depression takes on men, their families and society, it cannot be overstated that timely and effective treatment is vitally important.  A more concerted and national call-to-action is needed to address this potential medical time-bomb.


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