How Depression Affects Men Differently From Women

A man dealing with depression

Depression is a disease that affects someone’s thoughts, feelings, body, and behaviors. Many doctors can label depression as major depression, major depressive disorder, or clinical depression.

The American Psychological Association says that depression is common in men and approximately 9 percent of men in the United States experience moods of depression or anxiety each day. And 30.6 percent of men will experience a period of depression throughout their lifetime.

According to Harvard Health, men tend to experience more health problems than women and are more likely to experience heart attacks more than women. More men are more likely to die from cancer.

But only half of the men are less likely to develop one of the most disabling disorders worldwide which are major depression.

Even though depression is common in women with 10.4 percent being affected, compared to 5.5 percent of men in the U.S; suicide rates among men is four times higher than women. This is because depression can be more deadly for men than for women because of men’s reluctance to convey their feelings or seek help when they are suffering.

It hasn’t been clarified what distinguishes this gender difference but theory suggests that the combination of genes, hormones, and environmental stress contributes to it.

Understanding the differences in the symptoms between men and women is key, a first step to recognizing depression and beginning a journey to recovery.

Why Is It Hard to Diagnose Men with Depression?

According to Harvard Health, an analysis of the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression( STAR*D) study, found that one of the largest investigations of depression in ‘real world’ settings noticed that while men and women shared some symptoms of major depression (such as low mood), the overall pattern of symptoms varied by gender. Women were more likely to gain weight when depressed while men were more likely to lose weight.

Women also reported symptoms overlapping with anxiety disorders; men reported symptoms more typical of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Women also felt less energetic, and men became more agitated. Men were also more likely than women to develop alcohol or substance abuse in connection with major depression.

Research has also found that because of societal pressure for the man to behave ‘manly’, men tend to feel that it is weak to show despondency or self-doubt. As a result of this societal view, symptoms of depression can masquerade as anger or irritability.

Research carried out by the National Institute of Mental Health revealed that many men aren’t aware that physical problems such as headaches, stomach problems, and chronic pain can be symptoms of depression.

Other reasons why men don’t open up about depression may be having worries about how their friends, co-workers, bosses, or neighbors will react.

The Signs and Symptoms of Major Depression In Both Men and Women

Not everyone with depression will experience these symptoms but some symptoms are the same for men and women.

These are:

  • Less interest in or pleasure from daily activities
  • Significant weight loss or gain, or appetite changes
  • Insomnia or excessive sleepiness
  • Physical agitation or lethargy
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Feeling worthless or excessively guilty
  • Inability to think or concentrate
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

The Signs and Symptoms of Depression in Men

These symptoms range from behavioral to emotional to Physical. These symptoms can manifest differently in men and women but the most common signs of depression are:

  1. Behavioral signs in men
  • Drinking more or taking drugs
  • Avoiding family or social situations
  • Working obsessively without taking proper breaks
  • Finding it hard to keep up with work or family responsibilities
  • Becoming more controlling or abusive in relationships
  • Engaging in risk-taking behavior, such as gambling or unsafe sex
  • Attempting suicide

Depression can affect a man’s sex drive resulting in having less interest in having sex or sexual performance overall

  1. Emotional Signs In Men

As mentioned before, many men find it much easier to discuss physical symptoms than mood changes due to societal views on how men should act like men and repress the urge to express themselves emotionally.

Early signs of depression in men can include an increase in:

  • anger
  • frustration
  • aggression
  • irritability
  • thoughts of suicide
  1. Physical symptoms in men

Depression is a mental health condition that not only affects the mind but the body too.

Men with depression can experience these symptoms:

  • headaches
  • tightness in the chest
  • joint, limb, or back pain
  • digestive problems
  • tiredness
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • feeling restless or agitated
  • eating too much or too little
  • unintentional weight loss

These symptoms arise due to the effects that depression has on a person’s brain chemicals. Depression is known to change the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine which are brain messengers that govern pain and mood.

Depression is treatable and there is hope. If you are encountering the symptoms mentioned above, you may be going through depression. It is extremely important to see a mental health specialist who can help with diagnosis and treatment.

Suffering from depression silently can destroy your life. It is extremely important to seek help as soon as possible.



Burgess, L. (2019, January 28). Signs of depression in men: Symptoms, treatment, and how to get help. Medical and health information.

Harvard Health Publishing. (2011, June). Recognizing depression in men. Harvard Health.

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