Men & Mood - Breaking the Silence

By Wendy Walsdorf, LMFT

No one is immune to depression. Factors such as gender, socio-economic status, and ethnicity have little bearing on whether or not one will suffer from depression in his or her lifetime.

There are, however, gender differences in reporting rates of depression. Men are more reluctant to seek help than woman, resulting in males being more difficult to diagnose and treat. According to statistics, six million American men will be diagnosed with depression this year. There are countless others who feel stigmatized by depression and see it as a woman’s disease. It is for this reason that men are diagnosed at approximately half the rate as their female counterparts.

Our society requires a lot of our men. Typically, a successful man in this society is one who is in charge and in control of his emotions. There is an expectation that men be strong in the face of adversity. Terms such as “be a man” or “suck it up” are the messages many men grow up internalizing. Some men have been raised in homes where they were taught to be stoic and not show vulnerability. Men tend to deny having emotional problems and would rather express physical symptoms such as fatigue. Feeling tired is more socially acceptable to a man than feeling “blue” might be.
Men’s depressive symptoms do not necessarily match the criteria that have been used to diagnose this problem for years. Men may rely on activities that  “numb” their feelings, such as sexually acting out or using drugs or alcohol to excess. Men who abuse their partners and engage in domestic violence are typically depressed. It is not uncommon for men to distract themselves from feelings rather than express their emotions to family and friends and risk shame and embarrassment. 

Some common indicators of male depression are:

  • Irritability
  • Need for “things”
  • Angry outbursts
  • Restless sleep patterns
  • Workaholism
  • Increased use of alcohol, drugs or watching television
  • Social withdrawal
  • Hostility
  • Agitation and restlessness

Depression in both males and females is treatable. If you or a family member may be suffering, the UCLA Staff and Faculty Counseling Center is here to help. Please call (310) 794-0245 for an initial appointment.