Why Depression and Substance Abuse Can Hit Men Hard and How to Seek Help

Clinical depression can hit men at any time, any place. It may feel like it came out of nowhere, but the signs and symptoms often build for awhile prior to that occurring. Men suffer depression differently than women, but still experience the impact on their mood, energy levels, and quality of life. It is common for men with depression to abuse substances, stimulants, or alcohol to abate symptoms. Co-occurring disorders are difficult to treat alone, without professional help, and often lead to other issues like sleep disturbances, outbursts of anger, fatigue, and irritability.

Why They Occur Together

It is nearly a chicken and egg-type scenario when it comes to coping with depression and substance abuse. Many men struggle with depression that is medicated with alcohol. Men are also more likely to use substances like marijuana to relax and numb the feelings they have out because they have a hard time sharing feelings. Depressive symptoms often appear before a substance abuse problem. Many substances impact brain chemicals linked to mood regulation, whereas many men drink or use drugs to feel better and wind up worse off than before. Depressant substances like alcohol lower serotonin levels. This keeps moods stable, so a person abusing alcohol may trigger symptoms of depression over time. Chronic stimulant use is also linked to depression. A man with addiction may suffer withdrawal, marked by a range of symptoms that include depression.

Difficulty Finding Treatment

Men are diagnosed at half the frequency of women when it comes to depression. Typically, men are not as vulnerable as women to share their feelings and discuss what is going on within themselves. Their emotional expression is not as highly valued. Men may refuse to seek depression support because of perceived issues with masculinity. Some other reasons why men may find it hard to go to treatment:

  • Not educated on what it can do and how it will support them looking at past trauma, vulnerability, and healing from other challenges
  • Men may not be motivated to go to treatment if they are depressed, but they may also just feel in general some apathy about whether or not it can help them
  • The stigma around treatment can keep people from getting the help they need. Drug abuse carries stigma that impacts relationships and work
Seeking Treatment

Men are hit very hard by co-occurring depression and addiction issues. Psychiatric disorders like depression and substance abuse require treatment like anything else might. Mental health conditions are difficult to seek support for but it is highly beneficial. Co-occurring conditions may have a negative impact on life. A person may be unable to be a good partner, brother, or friend while they are addicted or feeling depressed. Work performance likely suffers, along with relationships, and other things. Depression and drug abuse may impact a person’s physical and emotional health. It has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease in men. Men with heart failure who had moderate to severe depression were nearly four times more likely to die than those people who were not depressed. Finding mental health support is key. Seek a physician’s referral and support, along with seeking rehab for dual diagnosis treatment if needed. There, a treatment plan can be developed, that looks at medication, therapy, and other things that will be helpful in finding hope and healing in recovery.

The Last Resort provides a safe, supportive environment for men in a retreat-like setting. We hope men come to us feeling like they need a home away from home and find it here with our family. Our goal is to create a safe space to be vulnerable so men can look at deeper issues of mental health and addiction, then develop an individualized treatment approach that works for them. Call us to find out more: 512-750-6750.