In his book, Unmasking Male Depression, Dr. Archibald Hart explains how men will typically experience depression differently than women. This can include major clinical depression that effects approximately 10% of the population, as well as “reactive depression” all of us experience when faced with a loss in life.
“Female depression is most often diagnosed by the pattern of feelings a woman is experiencing. Male depression is better diagnosed by the behaviors associated with depression…In male-type depression, therefore, we have to look at how men act, not at how they feel. Angry outbursts, becoming easily annoyed, increased sexual activity, workaholism, emotional and social withdrawal, coldness, aloofness, and even forms of family violence are nearer the depression mark than the crying and hopelessness of female depression,” (pg. 7).
Other “masks” of depression in men Dr. Hart identifies are:
- Anger, rage, and pent-up resentment
- Avoidance of family intimacy
- Failure to achieve intimacy in marriage
- Family abusiveness
- Pouting, brooding, and silence
- Sexual compulsions (a form of self-medication)
- Extramarital affairs as a way for relieving the pain of depression
- Physical illness, including the development of early heart disease
- Sabotaging of a career
- Frequent job changes
- Feeling victimized by others
- Discharging distress through negative and resistant actions
- Alcoholism or drug addiction (mind-altering substances easily serve to relieve the pain of depression)
- Cybersex (Internet pornography), pgs. 63-64
To those living with a depressed man:
I hope this gives you a different frame to see the man you love in. Underneath the prickly behaviors is a sense of vulnerability and powerlessness that many men don’t know how to respond to. What men need at this time in their life is to have love and acceptance communicated to them (…I know this can be hard with all the prickliness just described!).
To men with depression:
I know you didn’t choose to be depressed, but neither did the ones who live and interact with you! Now, more than ever you need the support of those whom you love. Talk with the people in your life about the sadness you are feeling instead of reacting out of it. Start learning what you can do to live in a healthy way during this season of your life. Your depression will pass, and you’ll want the ones you love around when the fog clears.
If you feel a need for counseling, please contact the Rush Creek Counseling Center at 817-704-6991 or you can schedule an initial appointment on our website.