Posted by: february13 | March 7, 2008

Mayo Clinic: Male Depression 2 of 2

When male depression goes untreated

Like other men, you may feel that your depression symptoms aren’t severe. You may believe that you should be able to just get over them or tough them out. You may try to deny them, ignore them or blunt them by drinking too much alcohol or working longer hours. But left untreated, male depression symptoms can disrupt your life in many ways and leave you chronically unhappy and miserable.

Depression can also affect your health. For instance, it can keep your stress response continually activated, a state that can damage many organs, including the heart. Depression may even shorten your life. In a given year, men with depression are more than twice as likely as men without depression to die of any cause. Women with depression also have an increased risk of dying, compared with women without depression, but the difference is not as great as it is in men. Although the reasons for this difference are unclear, men with depression may be more likely to engage in self-destructive behavior — from excessive drinking to reckless driving to suicide — that may contribute to it.

Depression also increases your risk of divorce and your children’s risk of developing depression themselves. At work, male depression makes you less productive, limits your earning potential and increases your risk of losing your job.

Suicide and male depression

Although women are twice as likely to have depression, men are four times as likely to suffer its worst consequence: suicide. Starting in adolescence, men are far more likely than women to take their own lives. Older men, particularly white men over age 85, have the highest suicide rate. Although women attempt suicide more often than men do, men are more likely to complete suicide.

Men are more likely to use more lethal means in suicide attempts, such as guns, which partly accounts for their higher rate of suicide. But other factors also are involved. One such factor may be their tendency to move from suicidal thoughts to suicidal actions faster than women. Men take an average of just 12 months to go from contemplating suicide to attempting suicide. In contrast, it takes women about 42 months. During this time, men are less likely than women to show warning signs, such as talk of suicide. Because this window of opportunity is so short, family and mental health professionals may have little chance to recognize a man’s depression and intervene.

Treatment and self-care for male depression

If you or someone close to you is considering suicide, seek help immediately from your doctor, the nearest hospital emergency room or emergency services (911).
If you suspect you have depression, schedule a physical examination with your family doctor or primary health care professional. Conditions such as a viral infection, thyroid disorder and low testosterone levels can produce symptoms similar to male depression. If your doctor rules out such conditions as a cause of your symptoms, the next step may be a depression screening. Treatment for male depression may include antidepressant medications, psychotherapy or both.

Self-care strategies also may help. These include:

• Setting realistic goals and prioritizing tasks
• Spending time with supportive family and friends
• Engaging in activities you enjoy, such as exercise, movies, ball games or fishing
• Delaying important decisions, such as changing jobs or getting married or divorced, until your depression symptoms improve

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