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Hope on the Horizon

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Men suffering from depression may not recognize the signs, but this major mood disorder can be overcome.

Depression, a serious mood disorder characterized by feelings of unhappiness, hopelessness and misery, is more than just occasional sadness. Left untreated, depression and other mood disorders can take a toll on nearly every aspect of life, from work and family responsibilities to hobbies and other pleasurable activities. According to the Center for Disease Control, depression affects nearly one in nine Americans.

While women are almost twice as likely to develop the disorder than men, depression does affect the male population. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, men may experience depression very differently than women. Symptoms of depression in men can include fatigue, irritability, anger and lack of sexual ability or desire.

Depression can be brought on by extreme stress, such as losing a loved one or being in an abusive or toxic relationship. It is also related to genetic factors — the National Institute of Mental Health notes that men whose family history includes depression may be at an increased risk of developing the disorder.

Finally, brain chemistry plays a role: A special health report by Harvard University, called “Understanding Depression,” explains how certain chemicals and parts of the brain affect the development of depression.

Seek Help
Because men are often taught to “man up” because “boys don’t cry,” it can be harder for men than women to recognize the signs of depression in themselves and seek help for mood disorders. Have you been feeling out of sorts lately? If so, depression may be to blame. The good news is that treatment is available, so be sure to seek help when you need it. Check the signs and symptoms below to see if you may be depressed.

Recognize the Symptoms

  • Feelings of sadness, worthlessness or “emptiness”
  • Sleeping too much or experiencing insomnia
  • Decreased interest in working and spending time with family
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Physical pain, such as aching joints, headaches or digestive issues
  • Suicidal thoughts or impulses
  • Inability to concentrate or remember details

Road to Recovery
Acknowledging depression and taking the first steps to get treatment can be challenging. If your symptoms match the list in this article, or you think you may be depressed, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician to talk about how you’re feeling and to receive any tests necessary for ruling out other medical conditions.

Medication and psychological therapy have both been shown to be effective for treating major depressive symptoms. Many medications for depression work by managing the production and absorption of serotonin, a brain chemical related to happiness. Some types of therapy, including the “cognitive-behavioral” approach, focus on identifying patterns of thought, behaviors and habits that contribute to depression.

No single course of treatment for depression will work for everyone. However, with time and treatment, you can find relief.