Although nobody says it aloud and although the feelings have no gender, for many chronic sadness is a women’s issue. And it is because a good number of people think that this feeling equals weakness to face life and, erroneously, this idea has been identified with the female gender.
Beyond the gender debate that this implies, the problem lies in what this implies for men. There is still a stigma about those who are depressed. The usual, then, is that they look for mechanisms to deny or hide their sadness. This may be one of the reasons why the male sex has lower life expectancy, higher rate of suicides and tends to get sick more frequently.
“Lord, the sorrows were not made for the beasts, but for the men; but if men feel them too much, they become beasts.”
-Miguel de Cervantes-
Depression in men acquires particular characteristics, mainly due to environmental conditions. It is not so easy to detect this mood disorder, even for themselves. Next we explain 5 signs that indicate the presence of depression in men.
A low self-efficacy together with feelings of guilt and uselessness are indicators of depression in men. In addition, the presence of a high demand is also very common. All this has as a consequence a strong self-criticism and the feeling of being unable to face any type of situation, even the most daily ones. Hence, they end up feeling frustrated and useless.
On the other hand, men tend to consider themselves more autonomous than women, they have a permanent need for independence, self-determination and freedom (Hankin, 2010, Liu & Alloy, 2010). When they are depressed, these standards and demands are shaken, because although expect to be and act according to these mental schemes, they are unable and end up not fulfilling them. In this way, they end up developing a very hostile self-criticism and feelings of guilt.
Vacuum sensation and unusual behavior
The feeling of emptiness, that something is missing inside, is also usually present in depressed men. This is often accompanied by a deep feeling of sadness that is about hiding from others.
On the other hand, changes are observed at the behavioral level. In some way, depression in men favors the presence of behaviors different from those that usually manifest, due to emotional instability. This causes men to perceive their situation as uncontrollable, thus reinforcing feelings of disability and the perception of low emotional control.
However, it is worth mentioning that there are a number of symptoms that indicate depression that are independent of gender, such as anhedonia, low self-esteem and sad affect.
Increase in work, social or sexual activity
Another of the main features of depression in men is the predominance of escapist behaviors. Among them we can highlight more dedication to work, an increase in the number of social exchanges or relationships with others – albeit superficially – and, sometimes, a frequent change of partners.
The point is that men try to be busy all the time. In this way, they have less time to get in touch with themselves and deal with their thoughts and discomfort. For Bennett et al. (2005) This avoidance trend has two objectives:
- Cognitive. It is about staying busy to avoid the string of worries, especially related to the future.
- Emotional. In this case, doing other activities helps to minimize the feeling of emptiness due to depression.
Self-injurious behavior and suicidal tendencies
In general, men with depression have a higher frequency of self-harm behaviors and suicidal risk when depression is more severe.
The most frequent self-injurious behaviors are the abuse of drugs and high-risk sexual relations. This type of behavior is usually an expression of anger towards themselves, the problem is that, sometimes, they can become so extreme that they can end in suicide.
A negative language
It is difficult to see a man crying because he feels sad or expressing that he is sad. Its symptoms tend to be more indirect than those of a woman. One of them is to talk pessimistically about the world, what it does and about itself.
The use of a very negative language in relation to the state of mind is another possible indicator of depression in men.
He will express that things are going from bad to worse and suggests that he only expects something bad towards the future.
Despair, despair and pessimistic vision of the future
Another sign of depression in men is the loss of interest in activities or events that previously caught their attention. Little by little, he feels more unmotivated to perform any activity different from his obligations. Even to these he sees them as a burden. You may sleep longer than usual, spend many hours watching television or going to something else that prevents you from thinking or feeling.
The usual thing is that you get upset when you are invited to change your routine. Sometimes, there is also an oversight in his grooming and his personal presentation. He lets his beard grow only because of “laziness” or does not pay any attention to his attire or appearance.
The presence of a pessimistic thought in relation to the future is also very characteristic of depression in men. This can be identified through a constant concern for the lack of opportunities to develop as a person, as well as the presence of expectations related to the non-achievement of their objectives and goals. The reason for all this is that the depressed man thinks that he does not have the personal resources to face them.
However, for several authors, the pessimistic thinking is the result of the combination of constant worry and intolerance of uncertainty.
Finally, it is important to mention that the most difficult part of depression in men is that they recognize it. His psychological resistance to accept it is very strong. Sometimes, it is best to help them understand that they have a problem, without labeling it under the name of “depression.” This makes it easier for them to do what they should do: seek professional help.