Then how is it that more than six million men in the United States have been diagnosed with at least one episode of major depression each year? Isn’t depression a feminine problem? And how many men go undiagnosed simply because of our social expectations of them?
Unfortunately the answer to the last question is, many. Because of the cultural norms we expect, men do not talk about their emotions, they do not often cry. Instead, men deny they feel “bad” and instead focus on common physical symptoms of depression. SYMPTOMS
It is acceptable in America to complain of being tired, not sleeping well, having no appetite (or an outrageous one), lack of interest in sex, or not having problems with co-workers, employers, staff, family. Furthermore, it is not unusual for men (active, take-charge, logical as we expect) to express their depression differently than women, with irritability, hostility, and aggression. Men also rely more heavily than women on alcohol or drugs to “handle” their problems.
Depression is not a thing to be trifled with. The great danger in undiagnosed depression is that untreated, it becomes worse. When men feel they have no help with their complaints, no escape from the pain, they are more likely than women to commit suicide.
We understand a great deal about the causes of depression today, but what we don’t know still fills volumes. A convergence of painful circumstances, poor health habits, and genetics can disrupt our neurotransmitters, reducing the efficacy of serotonin and is not within our personal control anymore than is epilepsy. Serotonin helps our brain cells “talk” to one another and when it does not function well, many of those cells related to mood, sleep, memory, appetite and sexual desire are affected.
Women may indeed be from Venus and men from Mars, but we are not so dissimilar that only Venusians need to have their depression acknowledged and treated.