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Depression in men

Depression is less common in men than it is in women. Around one in 10 men in the UK will be treated for depression at some stage, compared with one in four women.

The reasons for the depression differences between the sexes are not completely clear, but experts say men can be less likely to seek help for mental health issues than women are.

Common symptoms of depression in men include low self-esteem, loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities, fatigue, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, apathy, and sexual problems, including reduced sex drive. Depression in men may cause them to be irritable, aggressive or hostile.

Why is depression in men commonly not recognised?

There are several reasons why the symptoms of clinical depression in men are not commonly recognised. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, “compared with women, men tend to be more competitive and concerned with power and success. Most men don’t like to admit that they feel fragile or that they need help.”

Does depression in men affect sexual desire and performance?

Yes. Depression in men can affect sexual desire and performance. Men are often unwilling to admit to problems with their sexuality. Many mistakenly feel that the problems are related to their manhood, when, in fact, they are caused by a medical problem such as clinical depression.

What are some observable symptoms of depression in men?

Observable symptoms of depression are not as well understood in men as they are in women. Men are less likely to show "typical" signs of depression, such as crying, sadness, loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities, or verbally expressing thoughts of suicide. Depression in men may cause them to keep their feelings hidden. Instead of expressing the depressed mood, they may become more irritable and aggressive.

For these reasons, many men - as well as doctors and other health care professionals - fail to recognise the problem as depression. Some mental health professionals suggest that if the symptoms of depression were expanded to include anger, blame, lashing out, and abuse of alcohol, more men might be diagnosed with depression and treated appropriately.

What are the consequences of untreated depression in men?

Depression in men can have devastating consequences. The mental health charity, MIND, reports that three-quarters of suicides in the UK are by men. Though more women attempt suicide, more men are successful at actually ending their lives. This may be due to the fact that men tend to use more lethal methods of committing suicide.

Why is depression in men so hard to accept?

Understanding how men in our society are brought up to behave is particularly important in identifying and treating their depression. Depression in men can often be traced to cultural expectations. Men are supposed to be successful. They should rein in their emotions. They must be in control. These cultural expectations can mask some of the true symptoms of depression. Instead, men may express aggression and anger - seen as more acceptable strong and manly behaviour.

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