Depression can take its toll on men if left untreated. They are less likely than women to reach out for help and more likely to hide the signs. Men may be more likely to act out aggressively when depressed, as well, including taking their anger out on others in public displays. The key to understanding depression is knowing how men respond to environmental and personal situations, then finding ways to support their healing.
Covert, or hidden, depression, most likely shows up in men as being different than women’s depression. Millions of men around the world can become depressed and upset but not show others they feel that way. There are pressures on men women don’t necessarily have in the culture, including working long hours at jobs to support their families. Women are also working more, too, which changes the dynamics of relationships. Female depression outnumbers men slightly, but millions of men may be suffering in near silence. Physiologically speaking:
- Men’s brains use up to 7 times more gray matter for processing emotion and intelligence while women’s brains use 10 times more
- The female brain has verbal centers in both hemispheres while male brains compartmentalize verbal activity on the left side
- Women connect multi-lateral verbal centers to feeling centers in the brain than men
- Men may actually verbalize more feeling than women
This helps in understanding how the male brain is created to operate, but not necessarily how to fix the challenges men face with depression. Male type depression can become stigmatizing, thus men are less likely to reach out. It is expected boys and men will express their needs and, yes, men are less likely to say how they feel, even if they want to talk in a different way than women and girls.
Indicators for Depression
There are typical indicators to look for in boys and men that might help ascertain whether depression is an issue for them. They include:
- Significant trauma, bullying, or difficult life circumstances such as death or divorce
- Head injuries or concussions
- Homicides or acts of violence being witnessed (including veterans)
- Social media and screen time over use
- Isolating himself from friends and family
- Drinking or other behaviors that might increase the risk of depression
- Not performing well at school or work
- Health issues
While these may be situations where men can encounter depression, boys and men will not talk about their feelings as much as women and girls. They may not feel comfortable sharing or feel a stigma attached to it. Talking is one way to express feelings of sadness and depression. Boys show emotion by doing or not doing (acting and withdrawing).
The treatment of depression for men is different in that they have educational and mental health issues to address. Many people will miss signs of depression without knowing it. To offer the best course of treatment, men should receive:
- Professional psychiatric evaluations and support
- Blood testing for medications that may help
- Brain scans to identify spots of depressive activity
- Nutritional counseling as some foods may be more likely to trigger depression
- Watch out for substances and get treatment for addictive behaviors (including screens)
Men are more likely to hide their symptoms of depression behind aggression and isolation. There may be hidden issues a boy or man experiences that cause their depressive symptoms to rise up. Substance abuse may also be a trigger for depression. Likewise, they may use substances to numb depression. The key is finding a place to get support and help for issues relating to depression before the loved one suffers as a result.
The Last Resort specializes in treating men with mental health and substance use disorders. Our treatment team is dedicated to serving you and your individual needs. Our programs are nature-based, with the group and individual work being conducted as part of treatment plans. Call us to find out more: 512-750-6750.