Depression in Men: How Is It Different?

depression in menDepression is a serious illness in both men and women. It is more common in women, in part because of hormone changes at different times in a woman’s life. But depression is also a real issue for men. It can look different, and men are less likely to be treated for depression. Why is that?

Depression in Men

Men may be more likely to act out when depressed. These symptoms may be more common in men:

  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope
  • Doing things to avoid or escape feelings, like working too much
  • Watching more television than usual
  • Becoming irritable or angry
  • Becoming violent
  • Arguing or “looking for trouble”
  • Acting hostile
  • Doing risky things
  • Having affairs or cheating

Men may be less likely to have these symptoms of depression:

  • Sadness
  • Anxiety or worry
  • Feeling worthless
  • Feeling guilty

Some symptoms of depression are common in both men and women.

  • Not wanting to do things you enjoy, including sex Feeling hopeless Feeling very tired Having trouble focusing or making decisions Sleeping too much or too little Not being able to sleep Eating more or less than usual, or gaining or losing weight without trying Feeling restless or irritable Aches and pains or other physical problems that do not get better with treatment Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts

Many men hide depression so well even their doctor might not see it. This can make it harder for men to get treatment. The more we learn about how depression is different in men, the better health professionals will become at spotting and treating it.

The important thing to remember is that depression can be treated.

Getting Help

If you think you may be depressed, see your doctor. If your doctor asks about depression symptoms during a visit, be honest. Another health problem, like an infection, thyroid disorder, or low testosterone might cause you to feel depressed. Sometimes when these problems are treated, depression symptoms will go away. If your doctor thinks your symptoms are not caused by another health problem, you may be evaluated for depression. This could be done by your doctor or by a mental health professional.

During the evaluation, you will be asked about:

  • Your symptoms
  • Your drug and alcohol use
  • If you have had thoughts of death or suicide
  • If depression runs in your family

The doctor will check your mental status, including your speech, thought patterns, and memory. Treatment for depression may include medicine, psychotherapy or both.

Coping with Depression

These tips can also help you cope with depression:

  • Get regular exercise.
  • Go to the movies, ball games, or other social activities.
  • Set realistic recovery goals.
  • Make it a point to be around people.
  • Talk to someone you trust.
  • Expect your mood to improve little by little, not all at once.
  • Wait to make important decisions, such as job or relationship changes, until you feel better.
  • Ask your family and friends to help you deal with depression.

It is important for men to understand that depression is a brain disease, not a sign of weakness. Treatment can improve the quality of life of any man who is depressed, as well as those close to him.


National Institute of Mental Health


Canadian Psychiatric Association


Depression basics. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: Updated 2016. Accessed September 10, 2020.
Depression in men. Help Guide website. Available at: Updated October 2019. Accessed September 10, 2020.
Major depressive disorder (MDD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
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Accessed September 10, 2020.
Men and depression. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: Accessed September 10, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 1/15/2020

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