One of the hardest parts of my job is normalizing depression to my male clients. A lot of men would rather be diagnosed with scurvy than depression and in some cases that is likely to happen. The reason for this is that depression doesn’t always look like depression in men.
Most of us picture depression as a condition that causes sadness, crying, little to no motivation, and severe withdrawal from friends and family. While this is certainly accurate. The picture of the person unable to get out of bed and walking through life in a fog does not always resonate with men. What most fail to realize is that you can get up, go to work, come home, engage with your family, take care of what needs to be done, and still be suffering from depression. Why? Because there are some male specific symptoms of depression that we are not always looking for.
Consider these characteristics of male depression and truly ask yourself if this is something that you could be struggling with right now:
Irritability with Family Members
Do you get frustrated with your kids or partner easily? Does the thought of taking your family out to dinner set your teeth on edge because keeping up with everyone in your family feels exhausting? Do you catch yourself biting your tongue at home to keep from raising your voice? Do you see a family members name pop up on your caller ID and instantly tense your shoulders because you don’t want to talk to them? If any or all of these are true for you, it could be a sign of depression.
“This is just how I am”
Maybe you aren’t in a hurry to blame your struggles on your depression because you can’t remember a time in your adult life that you haven’t felt this way. This isn’t surprising to me because while women are more likely to experience depression in episodes, men are more likely to experience persistent symptoms. This is why it is easier for men to “get used” to feeling this way. This is also why you are still able to function at work and at home. It is because your depression is something that you have simply accepted.
Your Gender Issues
Men are more likely to experience mental health struggles like depression when they believe they are not fulfilling their masculine responsibilities. If you feel you don’t make enough money, look good enough with your shirt off, can’t perform they way you feel you ought to in bed, or feel that you aren’t strong enough in some way, then you are more likely to experience some form of depressive symptoms. The problem with this is that as men, we tend to create unrealistic expectations for ourselves that are nearly impossible to meet.
Men love to compound shame on top of any sort of distress. We feel sad one day, and reason to ourselves that we shouldn’t feel sad. “Look at my life. I have a beautiful family, a good job, and everything I could hope for.” Because of this, we decide that feeling sad is wrong. It’s a failure. Now, not only do we have the persistent feeling of sadness, we also have the shame for being “wrong” that we have added to the equation.
You wouldn’t think of this as a sign of depression, but for men, it very well could be. The sense that nothing is fun or that your life is mundane can be the result of a lack of contentment. Watch out for shame with this one too. Boredom does not mean that you are unhappy with your family, but it can mean that you are struggling to find motivation which is a hallmark sign of depression.
At Mind Works Counseling services in Lubbock, TX we understand that depression in men can be harder to spot. Yes, depression is diagnosed in women at twice the rate of men, but maybe that is because there are still so many who do not know what to look for. If you think that you might be dealing with depression, I urge you to seek out a counselor who knows what to look for. This is why we at Mind Works do what we do…every single day. Give us a call. Let us help. Don’t believe the lie that you have to live with it just because you are used to it.
Learn more about the Depression Therapy services we offer.
Contact us to schedule an appointment or to let us answer any questions you may have.