• Depression

Real Men - Real Depression

The facts about men and depression An estimated six million men in the United States have a depressive disorder - major depression, dysthymia (chronic, less severe depression), or bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) - every year. Although these illnesses are highly treatable, many men do not recognize, acknowledge, or seek help for their depression.

While both men and women may develop the standard symptoms of depression, they often experience depression differently and may have different ways of coping. Men may be more willing to report fatigue, irritability, loss of interest in work or hobbies, and sleep disturbances rather than feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and excessive guilt, which are commonly associated with depression in women. Also, tragically, four times as many men as women die by suicide, even though women make more suicide attempts during their lives. The truth is, depression is a real and treatable illness. It can strike at any age, from childhood into late life. With proper diagnosis and treatment, the vast majority of men with depression can be helped.

What makes depression different from the blues?

Depression is a serious medical condition that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It affects how you eat and sleep. It alters your self-perception. It changes the way you think and feel. Men with a depressive illness can't just "snap out of it" or "pull themselves together," because depression isn't the same as a passing mood. Left untreated, depression may last for weeks, months, or years at a time.

Depressive illnesses can make routine tasks unbearably difficult. Pleasures that make life worth living -- watching a football game, playing with children, even making love -- can be drained of joy. Depression brings pain and disruption not only to the person who has it, but also to his family and others who care about him. "If you are experiencing some of the following symptoms, you may have a depressive illness. Ask yourself if you are feeling: sad or "empty"; irritable or angry; guilty or worthless; pessimistic or hopeless; tired or "slowed down"; restless or agitated; like no one cares about you; or like life is not worth living.

You may also: sleep more or less than usual; eat more or less than usual; have persistent headaches, stomachaches or chronic pain; have trouble concentrating, remembering things or making decisions; lose interest in work or hobbies; or lose interest in sex. If you are feeling depressed, tell someone about your symptoms. Speak with a doctor, psychologist, social worker or employee assistance professional. Depression is a real, medical illness that can be successfully treated, most often with medication, psychotherapy ("talk" therapy), or a combination of both. Support from family and friends plays an important role as well.

It takes courage to ask for help.

Real Depression
sleep apnea

Maybe it’s not depression

Other medical conditions may be to blame

Symptoms of illnesses that have physical causes, such as thyroid conditions and infection, can mimic those of depression. Certain medications can cause them too. Your doctor can make a diagnosis only on the information you provide, so it’s important to recognize what’s important to tell her about what you’re experiencing. Low energy, lack of interest in things once found pleasurable, fatigue and difficulty concentrating are typical symptoms of depression. But, here are some other conditions that are characterized by similar symptoms. “Low levels of thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) can cause depression,” says psychiatrist Jim Phelps, MD, author of Why Am I Still Depressed?. “High levels (hyperthyroidism) can cause anxiety and agitation.” The thyroid gland pumps out hormones that regulate metabolism, heart rate and body temperature. Imbalances in these hormones can cause depressed mood, weight loss or gain, fatigue, memory and concentration problems –just like depression. “An evaluation of mood problems should include a check of your thyroid status, ” says Phelps. If your doctor doesn’t mention it, he suggests you wonder aloud about whether it might be a good idea. Bipolar disorder is often misdiagnosed as major depression. It’s important to diagnose it correctly, because if bipolar disorder is treated with antidepressants, your condition may not improve and can even worsen.


Sleep disorders

Other conditions that mimic depression include:

Sleep disorders, such as ongoing insomnia or sleep apnea, can contribute to depression and make it more resistant to treatment.

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes snoring, interrupted breathing and fragmented sleep.

The person will not remember these nighttime struggles. The disorder can be treated.

Alcohol use or abuse can cause the fatigue and fuzzy-headedness of depression. And an underlying cause of alcohol abuse can be depression.

Some chronic infections (e.g. Hepatis B or C) or malignancies (including Hodgkin's lymphoma) can also cause the type of fatigue and lethargy typical of depression

Stroke and Parkinson’s Disease can cause symptoms typical of depression

depression symptoms

Some medications can cause depression symptoms:

  • Oral steroids, such as Prednisone, often taken for asthma or joint pain
  • Hormones, such as progesterone and estrogen
  • Pain medications, such as Percocet
  • Tranquilizers, such as Valium and Xanax
  • Most blood pressure medications
  • Prescription antianxiety medications known as benzodiazepines
  • Heart medications, such as digitoxin (Crystodigin) and digoxin (Lanoxin)
  • Over-the-counter nighttime cold remedies

If you’re being evaluated by your primary care physician or a psychiatrist for what you think might be depression, be sure to discuss all your symptoms, especially physical ones, even if you don’t think they’re related. And, don’t forget to tell him or her what medications you’re taking.