Depression doesn’t discriminate: it impacts about 14.8 million American adults each year. Five million of those are men.

Signs and Symptoms

The hallmark signs of depression are sadness and loss of interest in activities. But, did you know that depression can look very different in men and women?

Here are some of the signs to be on the lookout for in men:

  • Anger and aggression. Negative thoughts and feelings of worthlessness are a common aspect of depression. For many men, this can result in feeling irritable and angry, leading to lashing out.
  • Feeling reckless or ‘on edge.’ Depression can manifest as reckless behavior in men. This can include engaging in risky activity, or suddenly making questionable choices.
  • Unexplained physical aches and pains. Physical pain and digestive issues often go hand-in-hand with mental illness. If there isn’t a physical reason for symptoms, it’s time to take a look at what’s going on in terms of mental health.
  • Sleep problems. Both sleeping too much and sleeping too little are indicators that there may be a bigger issue like depression at stake.
  • Withdrawing from friends and family. It’s one thing to be staying at the office late for a few weeks to knock out a big project; it’s another to isolate oneself from loved ones. Withdrawing from friends and family may also manifest as binge watching shows, constantly being on a smartphone, or playing video games until the early hours of the morning.
  • Excessive substance use. Substance use is a common accompaniment to depression. Many people will resort to the substances they have readily available to try and remedy their feelings, rather than seeking help.

None of these signs by themselves mean that your loved one has depression, but if you see one of the men in your life exhibiting a few of these behaviors, it may be time to seek help.

depression_in_men_blog.jpgSeeking Help

Men are far less likely to seek help, and while women attempt suicide at greater rates, men are both more likely to use dangerous methods and to die from suicide. However, contrary to popular belief, men don’t have to ‘tough it out.’ There IS help available, but it takes courage and support to seek it. Common self-help tips, like exercising, eating a healthy diet, and opening up about one’s feelings through conversation can help. But, these tips aren’t always enough to tackle clinical depression.

If self-help tips aren’t working, it’s time to seek professional mental health treatment. Mental health professionals may offer therapy, medication, or a combination of both. It may take time to find the right combination that works for you, but stick with it – it does get better.

If you believe your loved one needs support, and you want to talk to someone, call our Therapy Referral Services at 410-938-5000, and we will connect you with an appropriate care provider. 


Dr. Thomas Franklin is the medical director of The Retreat at Sheppard Pratt. He is a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and a candidate at the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis. He is Board Certified in Addiction Medicine and Psychiatry, and has extensive experience in psychotherapy, psychopharmacology, and addictions and co-occurring disorders. Dr. Franklin previously served as medical director of Ruxton House, The Retreat’s transitional living program, before assuming the role of medical director of The Retreat in 2014.

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