Depression in Men

As a middle-aged man, I am at a point in my life when the idea of seeing a doctor for any reason has become a bit threatening. I am frightened of what the doc may find when he starts poking and prodding my aging body. As with any machine, the body begins to break down, and even with regular maintenance (exercise, meditation, and good food), it is still going to develop some minor problems.

But I guess it only makes sense to take it in for a bit of overhaul work—you know, that beyond-the-surface look into the deeper depths of this temple. The physical aspect of this feat is often daunting for us guys; after all, aren’t we supposed to be able to just pick ourselves up and keep on moving? And then there’s another arena we rarely want to examine: the mental aspect of our health. Depression and anxiety may go undiagnosed for years.

These mental problems may hide beneath the surface of “grumpy old men,” “workaholics,” or “isolated, moody grandpas.” Men are diagnosed with depression and anxiety much less often than women, but in terms of success at suicide we are far more effective. It is ironic that we won’t let ourselves be vulnerable to the diagnoses of these problems, but we will take action to end the pain.


Depression in men is often misunderstood because the symptoms are not always the classic symptoms of depression. Some usual symptoms of depression are problems sleeping and eating, lack of energy, poor concentration, thoughts of death or suicide, and not enjoying the hobbies you used to enjoy. For men, however, the typical symptoms may be more like edgy emotions, quickness to anger, isolation, always working, watching excessive TV, loss of interest in sex, thoughts of suicide, and poor energy. These symptoms often coincide with the aging process, so we may just attribute them to getting older and not give any thought to the possibility that we might be able to do something about it. We just keep on “showing up,” but really lack the emotional involvement we used to have.

First, we need to understand that depression and anxiety are very treatable. The research is clear: Both psychotherapy and medicines can have a real impact. If you are opposed to one of these treatments, the other is likely to be effective. If you try one treatment and it is not useful, then a combination of treatments may be more useful.

Here is the main point: If you think on some deeper level that you might be depressed or anxious, talk to someone about it. You don’t have to wait for your doctor to poke or prod you about it. You can bring it up with your spouse, a friend, the doc, a nurse educator, or a mental health professional. All you have to say is “I am worried that I might be depressed” and let the other person help you deal with the issue and find treatment. You do not have to suffer in silence; to be a truly “strong man,” have the courage to get the help you need now.

  • Robert Ference

    Article not really helpful to me, but for those of you in your 40’s, 50’s take head.

    For me the SSRI of choice is Effexor. I’ve been medicating with this too long (>10y). Its lost its beneficial effect. It is also VERY difficult to discontinue.

    If prescribed ANYTHING, insist on re-eval and discontinuence as soon as practical.

    Good luck guys!

  • Debbie

    I found this blog very gentel and yet eye opening to what I’ve been thinking about my husband in his sudden change of moods. I have sent it him and we will see. Thanks..

  • RonHyatt

    I don’t see how you can AVOID depression when living with a life long chronic disease!
    Of course I’m depressed, I have a illness that is killing me, duh!

  • douglas

    ones mood, be it depressed or animatedly optimistic can affect multiple aspects of life and hinder or support how we wxperience day to day living. Depression is not mandatory when dealing with chronic illness, but is pervasive if ignored and no attempt to treat is made. A trial of an SSRI for sixty days may result in a vastly different perspective on daily drudgery to the point of feeling joy and hopefulness again. Also can result in some impulsive toughts and actions that should be monitored before acting on I have observed. But depressive mood can make dealing with the chronicity of an illness much more difficult, though philosohers may say that without the depths of despair there wouldnot be some of the great art and literature out there. I say let the optimally healthy have the luxury of working through despair, let those dealing with chronic illness have sunnier days even if it means artificially enhancing the serotonin levels for a brief or extended time. I have seen this help several people and believe its well worth trying.