- Types of Depression
- Symptoms of Depression and Mania
- Co-Occurrence of Depression with Other Illnesses
- Causes of Depression
- MD: Men and Depression (research)
- Depression in Elderly Men
- Depression in Boys and Adolescent Males
- Diagnostic Evaluation and Treatment
- How to Help Yourself if You Are Depressed
- How Family and Friends Can Help
- Where to Get Help
- For Further Information
Depression is a serious medical condition that affects the body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way one eats and sleeps. It affects how one thinks about things, and one's self perception. A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition one can will or wish away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely “pull themselves together” and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. However, appropriate treatment, often involving medication and/or short term psychotherapy, can help most people who suffer from depression.
“I can remember it started with a loss of interest in basically everything that I like doing. I just didn’t feel like doing anything. I just felt like giving up. Sometimes I didn’t even want to get out of bed.”
-Rene Ruballo, Police Officer
Depression can strike anyone regardless of age, ethnic background, socioeconomic status, or gender; however, large scale research studies have found that depression is about twice as common in women as in men.1,2 In the United States, researchers estimate that in any given one year period, depressive illnesses affect 12 percent of women (more than 12 million women) and nearly 7 percent of men (more than six million men).3 But important questions remain to be answered about the causes underlying this gender difference. We still do not know if depression is truly less common among men, or if men are just less likely than women to recognize, acknowledge, and seek help for depression.
In focus groups conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to assess depression awareness, men described their own symptoms of depression without realizing that they were depressed. Notably, many were unaware that “physical” symptoms, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain, can be associated with depression. In addition, men were concerned that seeing a mental health professional or going to a mental health clinic would have a negative impact at work if their employer or colleagues found out. They feared that being labeled with a diagnosis of mental illness would cost them the respect of their family and friends, or their standing in the community.
Over the past 20 years, biomedical research, including genetics and neuroimaging, has helped to shed light on depression and other mental disordersincreasing our understanding of the brain, how its biochemistry can go awry, and how to alleviate the suffering caused by mental illness. Brain imaging technologies are now allowing scientists to see how effective treatment with medication or psychotherapy is reflected in changes in brain activity.4 As research continues to reveal that depressive disorders are real and treatable, and no greater a sign of weakness than cancer or any other serious illness, more and more men with depression may feel empowered to seek treatment and find improved quality of life.