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Depression and gender

Research used to suggest that depression was more common in women than men, but more recent studies show that men and woman are about equally as likely to have depression. For many reasons men are just more likely to go undiagnosed and untreated for their mental health.

While many men and women  with depression experience similar types of symptoms, women are more likely to seek help for symptoms like hopelessness and sadness. Due to societal expectations of men to “suck it up” and not express sadness, they often feel less comfortable to talk about their feelings. Because of this, men tend to experience irritability or anger as signs of depression, and aren’t as likely to seek help for symptoms that affect their emotions.

In fact, it’s common for men to seek help from their general practitioner for the physical symptoms of depression, like aches and pains, gastrointestinal problems, or sleeping issues, rather than go to a mental health professional. This typically delays or prevents them from getting the proper mental health diagnosis.

It’s crucial that everyone understand the range of depression symptoms because untreated depression is one of the biggest risk factors for suicide. Women are more likely to attempt suicide, but men are more likely to die by suicide.

In fact, more than 75 percent of suicides victims in the U.S. are male.

Men are also three times more likely to suffer from substance abuse problems, which can often develop when other mental health disorders go untreated, and an individual self-medicates with alcohol or other drugs.

What are lesser known symptoms of depression to keep an eye out for?

    • Anger, aggressive behavior, or irritability
    • Feeling anxious
    • Loss of interest in things once enjoyed
    • Isolating from family and friends
    • Physical pains, headaches, or digestive problems
    • Fatigue, sleeping too much, or having trouble sleeping
    • Overeating or not having much of an appetite
    • Thoughts of suicide
    • Difficulty focusing
    • Feeling hopeless or empty
    • Engaging in risky behaviors
    • Relying on alcohol or drugs

If you or someone in your life seems to be exhibiting some of these symptoms, take a mental health screening. While it’s not a diagnostic test, it will give you insight into whether it might be the right time to seek help.

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