Blokes feeling blue: identifying and conquering depression

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The following information is printed with the permission of beyondblue: the national depression iniative. 

Depression affects both men and women, but quite often what they experience and how they respond is different.

Men are more likely than women to recognise and describe the physical symptoms of depression, such as feeling tired or losing weight. They may also acknowledge feeling irritable or angry, rather than saying they feel low.

Because of this, depression in men is often not picked up by themselves or by others – including doctors. If depression is not detected, it can’t be treated and then it has the potential to become severe and disabling.

Depression is a known high risk factor for suicide. In Australia men account for 80 per cent of deaths by suicide (ABS (2007) Suicides, Australia, 2005). It’s vital that more people learn to recognise depression in men because depression is treatable and effective treatments are available.

What is depression?

  • Depression is more than just a low mood – it’s a serious illness that requires attention.
  • People with depression find it hard to function every day.
  • Depression can have serious effects on physical and mental health.

How do you know if someone is depressed and not just sad?

A person may be depressed, if for more than two weeks they have...

  1. Felt sad, down or miserable most of the time, OR
  2. Lost interest or pleasure in most of their usual activities AND experienced a number of these symptoms:

Behaviour

  • General slowing down or restlessness
  • Neglecting responsibilities and not looking after themselves
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Becoming confused, worried and agitated
  • Inability to find pleasure in any activity
  • Finding it difficult to get motivated in the morning
  • Behaving differently from usual
  • Denying depressive feelings – this can be used as a defence mechanism

Thoughts

  • Indecisiveness
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Persistent suicidal thoughts
  • Talking negatively e.g. “I’m a failure”, “It’s my fault”, “Life isn’t worth living.”
  • Excessive worrying about finances
  • Perceived change of status within the family

Feelings

  • Moodiness or irritability – this can come across as anger or aggression
  • Sadness, hopelessness or emptiness
  • Feeling overwhelmed, worthless or guilty

Physical Symptoms

  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Unexplained headaches, backache or similar complaints
  • Digestive upsets, nausea, changes in bowel habits
  • Agitation, hand-wringing, pacing
  • Loss or change of appetite
  • Significant weight loss or gain

Everyone experiences some or all of these symptoms from time to time, but when symptoms are severe and lasting, it’s time to get professional medical help.

Early detection and treatment may help to keep depression from becoming severe. Depression is treatable and effective treatments are available.

For a copy of beyondblue's full fact sheet on 'Depression in men' please click here. (You'll find it towards the bottom of the page under 'information and resources'.)


The beyondblue info line (1300 22 4636) costs the same as a local call, and can provide access to information and referral to relevant services. For a comprehensive list of links on anxiety and stress-related issues, click here. 

To talk with a trained volunteer telephone counsellor at any time of the day or night, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.