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Depression often looks very different in men versus women

Depression is a mental disorder that both men and women struggle with. However, in the case of men, the disorder can look very differently that it looks in women.

According to a statement from the National Institute of Mental Health, biology and social pressures contribute to the difference on how depression symptoms show up in men versus women. Compared to their female counterparts, many men find it hard to talk to another person about their feelings, to recognize that they have a problem and, even more, seek help. In many cases, they themselves do not realize that they have a brain imbalance disorder.

Men with depression tend to hide their emotions and may seem angry, irritable, or aggressive while women associate sadness or being weepy with the disorder. Men may be more likely to have difficulty sleeping than women who have depression. However, the sexes equally experience debilitating fatigue that contributes to a loss of interest in work, family, or hobbies.

Sometimes mental health symptoms are disguised as physical health problems such as heart palpitations, chest pain, headaches that come and go or digestive issues. As a result, many men consult their physician for physical symptoms without understanding that the root cause is something very different. To be clear, not all men or women present with the same symptoms, frequency, or severity.

The NIH statement outlines another serious and significant difference between the sexes: women with depression are more prone to suicide attempts, but men tend to execute them more successfully because, among other things, they use more aggressive techniques when trying to take their own lives.

Medical professionals often find it harder to identify depression symptoms in men than women, making it even more critical that they seek out a qualified specialist. Depression requires a clinical evaluation by a physician, like a psychiatrist, that knows the criteria and can determine if the disorder is mild, moderate, or severe, and thus determine the best treatment plan for the individual’s unique situation.


Angelo Sambunaris, M.D.

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