5 minutes read time.
Dr. David H. Demmer, Senior Clinical Psychologist
Depression is more common in men than many people realise, in part because so many cases go undiagnosed.
Depression can look different in men, so it’s important to know what physical, emotional, and behavioural signs to watch for.
If you recognise signs of depression in a friend or loved one, there are steps you can take to show your support and encourage them to get the help they need.
Depression is more common in men than you might think. As many as 1 in 8 will experience depression at some point in their lives.
It’s also a diagnosable condition. It’s not a defect or a sign of weakness. Also, depression can be treated. If you think someone you know might be dealing with depression, there are steps you can take to show your support. But because men are less likely to seek help for depression, it’s important to know what signs to look for.
Sadness, apathy, withdrawal. This is what depression looks like to many of us. And while men can experience any or all of these, one reason depression is often missed in men is that the symptoms can be different.
For example, men are more likely to experience anger and irritability as a result of depression, as opposed to sadness and withdrawal. If your friend or partner seems to snap more easily than they used to, that may be a sign they’re struggling and need your support.
There are other common signs of depression to watch for, including changes in their physical health, emotional state, or their behaviour.
Keep in mind that no two individuals with depression are the same. Symptoms can vary widely from one person to the next. Having one or two of the symptoms listed below doesn’t automatically mean your friend is experiencing depression. Most of us will face at least some of these things from time to time.
To know whether your friend is going through life’s normal ups and downs or wrestling with something bigger, ask the following questions
If the answer to either question is yes, then it may be time to offer help.
Common physical signs of depression in men can include:
As already mentioned, the emotional effects of depression can be different for men than for others:
Depression can also lead to worrying changes in behaviour , some of which can have further physical and emotional effects. Don’t ignore any of these warning signs in someone close to you:
Always remember: depression is a clinical, diagnosable condition. It’s not your responsibility (or job) to diagnose your friend or partner. The most important thing you can do is encourage them to get the help they need if either you or they are worried.
If someone you care about is dealing with depression, there are practical steps you can take to offer support.
Most importantly, if your mate talks about suicide, don’t dismiss it. Notify their doctor or therapist immediately if you’re able. Most countries have one or more suicide prevention services you can contact as well. The following services are available 24/7:
Here’s a list of crisis lines available around the world.
Depression is an overwhelming experience. But your friends don’t have go through it alone, when you know the signs to watch for and how to show up with the support they need.