Understanding Male Depression

The National Institute Of Mental Health reports that yearly, there are about 6 million American men who suffer from depression. And psychologists are aware that men are less likely than women to report or seek help for all mental-health problems including their depression.

Researchers and medical practitioners are starting to think that the usual signs of depression may not be represented in men’s experience with depression.

Research results

Men may resort to overworking (increases in fatigue), anger (which can be abusive in nature), loss of interest in work and/or other activities, and sleep disturbances to express their depression.

Men are also more inclined to take drugs and alcohol (which doctors think may be an effort to self-medicate), covering signs of depression and making it harder to treat if effectively.

Psychologists are also trying to look for a pattern in men’s ‘depressive’ behavior: are they more likely to hide in with overworking? Or do they expose themselves through risky behavior?

Depression, if left untreated, can lead to personal, family, and financial problems, even death. Researchers found that men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women in the United States, resulting in perhaps a higher number of untreated depressions. Interestingly though, it has also been reported that 8 out of 10 cases respond to depression treatment.

Psychologist Aaron Rochlen, PhD, of the University of Texas claims that research show men who require mental-health services are the ones who are least interested in seeking help. Dr. Rochlen has started looking into alternative marketing methods and providing counsel to those who resist it. Dr. Rochlen and his colleagues have been documenting how the "traditional male role" is linked with negative physical and psychological consequences such as depression.

PA President Ronald Levant, EdD, dean of Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Akron as of Fall 2005 uses what he calls ""normative male alexithymia" to describe men’s problem with expressing their emotions – a problem which may be a contributor to their depression and which could be what’s stopping then from seeking help.

As for older men, NIMH says that doctors may not immediately see the signs of depression in these elderly male patients because they are focused on existing medical conditions such as heart disease, cancer, etc. These diseases are a possible cause for depression in elderly patients and it is important that doctors see the signs of depression because elderly men have the highest suicide rates.

Implications of the results of the study

Armed with their new discoveries, researchers and mental health professionals are trying to differentiate and find new methods and approaches of treatment to depression.

Medical practitioners are becoming more aware that they should be sensitive to the danger signs of depression for men which are different for women.

Psychologists and other practitioners are also focusing on men’s mental health issues considering their discomfort for expressing emotion, their lack of interest in seeking help and higher risk of abusive and risky behavior, as well as substance abuse and suicide.