Men Get Depression
- Author: Wednesday, September 15th, 2010
All types of depression, no matter how severe, should be talked about with a health professional.
What Causes Depression?
Research hasn't found any one cause for depression. But, both genes and environment seem to play roles in changing the brain chemistry that affects your mood. In some cases, depression can run in the family, but people with no family history of depression can get it too.
Stress Stress can also play a role in depression. Men of all ages go through major life changes like leaving home for work or college, moving to a new city or country, losing a job, retirement, or finding out that you have a health problem. Some common changes or events that can trigger depression are:
- Stress at school, work, or home
- Reaching or not reaching your goals
- Sudden money problems
- Relationship problems
- Being away from friends and family
- Combat experience
- The death of a loved one Verbal, physical, or sexual abuse
- A serious illness or accident
- Failing a test or class
- Dropping out of school
- Parents' divorce
- Experimenting with drugs and alcohol
- Starting a stressful job, college, or military service
- Moving or leaving home for the first time
- Questions about one's sexuality Losing or changing a job
- Starting a family
- Family responsibilities like caring for children, a spouse/partner, or aging parents
It's not just major events. Everyday stress can also trigger depression, including:
- Constant money problems
- Chronic illness
FOR YOUNG MENLeaving the security of home for the unkown of college or a job, perhaps in an unfamiliar place, carries great potential for stress. Young men especially, can be depressed and suffer from other health issues at the same time. Some of the more common issues that young men experience with depression are anxiety disorders and substance abuse.
STRESSES OF MID-LIFE In the middle years, men face stresses related to their families and jobs--losing a job, being looked over for a promotion, having to uproot the family to move to another branch are a few examples. Illness to a family member, whether an aging parent, a child, spouse or oneself, adds many hours to the "workday" and is a common stressors. And illness also has an impact on family finances, especially for those without health insurance. Juggling a job and childcare is never stress-free. All of these stress factors are intensified when both spouses have to work.
THE STRESS OF RETIREMENT Retirement can bring with it feelings of decreased social worth. And, it's true that as we age we attend more funerals and face more genuine sadness and grief from the loss of loved ones and friends. These feelings are normal, but they can lead to depression. Likewise, aging may be accompanied by a loss of independence and ability to do things that used to provide joy and meaning in life. That, too, can trigger depression.
Health Problems Sometimes other health problems play a role. Finding out that you have a serious health condition, like cancer, or dealing with the chronic pain that comes with age can trigger depression also.
Nutrition can play a role, too - sometimes not getting enough folate or omega-3 fatty acids can make you feel like you're depressed. Or, sometimes problems with your thyroid (hypothyroidism) or not having enough testosterone can make you feel depressed, too. And, if you drink alcohol or take certain drugs, like sedatives or medications to reduce high blood pressure, you may be more likely to become depressed. Thankfully, most of these conditions can be treated or are problems that you can manage on your own.
There are also some health problems that occur more often with depression than others. One of the most common is heart disease. People with heart problems have higher rates of depression, and people who are depressed have higher rates of heart disease. Other illnesses that are often seen with depression include:
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Anxiety disorders
- Chronic illnesses like diabetes, cancer, HIV, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Signs and Symptoms of Depression:
Depression has a number of signs and symptoms. Sometimes men or those closest to them, may not see the signs. Men are each affected in different ways, but three of the most common signs are pain, risk taking, and anger.
Depression may show up as physical signs like constant headaches, stomach problems, or pain that doesn't seem to be from other causes or that doesn't respond to normal treatments.
Sometimes depressed men will start taking risks like dangerous sports, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, and casual sex.
Anger can show itself in different ways like road rage, having a short temper, being easily upset by criticism, and even violence. Here are some other common signs, especially if they last for a few weeks or months:
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or that you always fail
- Feeling restless and/or irritable
- Having no energy
- Problems sleeping (not sleeping or sleeping too much)
- Feeling angry or violent
- Feeling like you can't work or get things done
- Using alcohol or drugs to feel better
- Sexual inability
- Losing interest in hobbies, work, and/or sex
- Having problems focusing, remembering, or making choices
- Missing work, class, or appointments
- Not caring about anything or feeling "blank"
- Always feeling sad or nervous
- Changes in appetite and/or weight
- Working too much
- Feeling alone
- Being negative about everything
- Thinking about death or suicide
Types of Depression:
Just as there are different signs of depression, there are different types:
- Stress-related depression may be caused by sudden stress or a major event like a breakup, losing a job, bad grades, or the death of a loved one. Stress-related depression can lead to more serious forms of depression, so you may want to seek help.
- Seasonal depression (seasonal affective disorder) tends to come around the same time each year usually in the fall or winter. Seasonal depression has many of the same signs as depression like feeling down, tired, short-tempered, craving sweets and starches, headaches, and having problems sleeping.
- Chronic depression (dysthymia) is not a severe type of depression, but symptoms can stay with you for a long time and affect your daily life. Without treatment, chronic depression can lead to major depression. Many people with chronic depression suffer from major depression at least once in their lives.
- Major depression is a severe form that can lead to problems at home, school, and work. It can keep you from being able to study, sleep, and find joy in things like sports, music, friendship, and sex. While some people only suffer from major depression once in their life, others suffer from it many times.
- Bipolar disorder (manic-depression) can involve extreme changes in mood. Your may change from feeling depressed to feeling very active or talkative to feeling "normal."
Suicide Warning Signs to Act On
HAVE YOU FOUND YOURSELF:
- Talking about wanting to hurt or kill yourself
- Looking for ways to kill yourself like trying to get a gun, pills, etc.
- Unusual talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide
IT MAY MEAN THAT YOU NEED SUPPORT RIGHT AWAY.FREE HELP IS HERE: 1-800-273-TALK OR 1-800-273-8255.
Other serious signs to watch out for include:
- Using alcohol or drugs more than usual
- Talking about having no reason to live or having no purpose in life
- Feeling anxious or worried
- Not sleeping or sleeping all the time
- Feeling trapped like there's no way out