Depression is still a highly underdiagnosed problem in men. According to one study (Potts, Burnan, and Wells, 1991), 65% of men’s depression went undetected and undiagnosed. For many men, depression is a crippling condition that is ill-defined, too difficult to deal with directly, and highly stigmatized by culture, all of which prevent men from getting the help they need.
In his book, “Men In Therapy,” Dr. David Wexler writes that depression looks different in men than it does in women. He identifies a newly emerging category of depression – male-type depression. Wexler states that instead of men reporting sadness, they tend to experience and report these symptoms:
- Feeling irritable
- Hard to name the feelings inside, but feel numb or “dead”
- Feel unsatisfied
- Loss of vitality
- Vague, persistent physical symptoms, like headaches, mysterious pain and insomnia
Men’s Myths of Depression
Wexler also identifies the reasons that men report when asked, “Why do men say they are less likely to seek treatment for depression?” (Hales and Hales study, 2004)
- 41% of men surveyed state that “the attitude that a man can or should tough it out” is important
- 24% of men say that there is “embarassment or stigma associated with depression.”
- 16% of men state that the main problem was that men “don’t recognize the symptoms”
Culture and stigma certainly play a huge role in preventing men from seeking the help that they need. Too many men suffer from the features of depression, and don’t get the help that they need. Men are often times less inclined to ask for help, and don’t have the social support that many women do when there’s a mental health issue that needs attention. Men often will blame others, avoid and escape their problems (often times with drugs, alcohol or other avoidance means), and will tend to be discontent with themselves (Wexler, 2009). Men will tend to get angry, which, according to Pollack (1995), is “their way of weeping.”
Men don’t need to suffer from depression alone. Admitting that there’s a problem, asking for help, and seeking the right Phoenix mental health counselor are all important first steps. As we continue to stop stigmatizing depression for men, it may become easier for even the most difficult of cases of male-type depression to find help.