By George Shelton, M.D.

Getting speeding tickets, getting angry with others, volunteering to work more hours, spending more time on hobbies watching sports … which of these could be a sign of depression?

Would it surprise you that all of them could be? More than 6 million men suffer from depression each year in the United States. About 75% to 80% of all people who commit suicide in the United States are men. Male depression is a serious medical condition, but it usually gets better with treatment. However, many men downplay or ignore signs of depression or refuse treatment, which can have devastating consequences.

Symptoms of Depression in Men

Men tend to handle depression much differently than women, and symptoms may not be as noticeable. Because men are expected to be “manly” and strong, many of them struggle with admitting they may need help. Some of the signs of depression overlap with other medical conditions, which can also make detecting depression in men more difficult.

Men and women with depression may:

  • Have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
  • Feel extremely tired
  • Experience difficulty sleeping or sleep too much
  • Lose interest in activities they normally enjoy

While women tend to have feelings of sadness and worthlessness, men may experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Escapist behavior, such as overworking or spending a lot of time in extracurricular activities
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Controlling, violent, or abusive behavior
  • Anger, aggression, or agitation
  • Risky behavior, such as driving recklessly
  • Difficulty meeting work, family, and other personal responsibilities
  • Emotional withdrawal
  • Lack of libido
  • Memory problems or inability to concentrate
  • Chest tightness, digestive problems, erectile dysfunction, headaches, heart palpitations, or unintended weight change

Treatment Options for Men

Depression isn’t a sign of weakness. Without treatment, depression may worsen and impact every aspect of life. Even when severe, depression most often improves with medications or counseling by a mental health professional who can work with you on healthy coping skills and strategies.

If you think you or a loved one might be depressed, make an appointment with your family doctor, who can assess symptoms, rule out other potential causes, and recommend a treatment plan, if needed.

Dr. Shelton is a board-certified Internal Medicine physician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Pearland Clinic. His clinical interests include patient education and improvement using technology.