Posted by: Thixia | March 6, 2008

Mayo Clinic: Male Depression 1 of 2

Male depression: Don’t ignore the symptoms

Are you irritable, isolated, and withdrawn? Do you find yourself working all the time, drinking too much alcohol, using street drugs or seeking thrills from risky activities?
If so, perhaps you’re being chased by what Winston Churchill called his “black dog” — male depression. Churchill attempted to ward off his black dog with compulsive overwork and large amounts of brandy. For male depression, the coping strategy may be reckless driving, risky sex, or shutting yourself off from the world.
But none of these can keep male depression at bay for long. Even worse: Men with depression are at an increased risk of suicide.Male depression often undiagnosed

Each year, depression affects about 6 million American men and 12 million American women. But these numbers may not tell the whole story. Because men may be reluctant to discuss male depression with a health care professional, many men with depression may go undiagnosed, and consequently untreated.

Some men learn to overvalue independence and self-control during childhood. They’re taught that it’s “unmanly” to express common feelings and emotions often associated with depression, such as sadness, uncertainty or a sense of hopelessness. They tend to see illness — especially mental illness — as a threat to their masculinity. So men may deny or hide their problems until a partner’s insistence or a catastrophic event, such as job loss or arrest, forces them to seek treatment.

When they visit their health care professional, men are more likely to focus on physical complaints — headaches, digestive problems or chronic pain, for example — than on emotional issues. As a result, the connection between such symptoms and male depression may be overlooked. And even if they’re diagnosed with depression, men may resist mental health treatment. They may worry about stigma damaging their careers or about losing the respect of family and friends.

Symptoms of male depression

In both men and women, common signs and symptoms of depression include feeling down in the dumps, sleeping poorly, and feeling sad, guilty and worthless. Men with depression, however, have bouts of crying less often than do women with depression.
Other symptoms of male depression often include:

• Anger and frustration
• Violent behavior
• Losing weight without trying
• Taking risks, such as reckless driving and extramarital sex
• Loss of concentration
• Isolation from family and friends
• Avoiding pleasurable activities
• Fatigue
• Loss of interest in work, hobbies and sex
• Alcohol or substance abuse
• Misuse of prescription medication
• Thoughts of suicide

In addition, men often aren’t aware that physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive disorders and chronic pain, can be symptoms of male depression.

Job stress a common trigger of male depression

Whether in men or in women, the precise cause of depression isn’t known. Researchers believe depression is the result of a combination of genetics, your thought processes and your social environment. Everyone, for instance, is susceptible to depression in the wake of a major life stress, such as the end of an important relationship, the death of a loved one, moving or financial problems.
Some research suggests that for men, job-related stress may also play an important role in male depression. Some job characteristics that may be associated with male depression include:

• Lack of control over your responsibilities
• Unreasonable demands for performance
• Conflicts with supervisors or co-workers
• Lack of job security
• Night-shift work
• Excessive overtime
• More time than you’d like spent away from home
• Wages that don’t reflect the level of responsibility

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