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How depression affects men....and how therapy might help

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

First Step Men's Therapy helps men across Ontario, Canada develop healthier relationships with themselves and others. We offer individual, couples, and group counselling to men and their families online using our secure telehealth platform.

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Depression impacts men differently than women - often going unnoticed

One of the common symptoms we see within the clinic is depression. If you struggle with depression, you are not alone. Approximately 5% of the world's population suffer from depression at one time in their life. Men struggle with depression in ways that often go unnoticed, undiagnosed and un-treated. Men commonly treat their depression through unhealthy ways, including addiction, substance misuse, and emotional dysregulation. Many men also hurt themselves, either through self-harm, toxic shame, or even worse, suicide. Men account for approximately 80% of all accounted death by suicide, which stresses the depths of despair, sadness, and grief experienced by both men and their families. Men are less likely to seek therapy than women, which may be due to:

  • stigma associated with seeking "help"

  • resistance to talking about "problems"

  • difficulty seeing the link between therapy and feeling better

  • challenges expressing themselves or describing how they feel

  • associating asking for help as a sign of weakness or losing control

Three often overlooked symptoms of depression include:

  • Physical aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems

  • Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness

  • Engaging in high-risk activities

Often these overlooked symptoms can make it harder to identify and notice depression in men.

Other symptoms men experience different symptoms when they are experiencing depression:

  • Feeling anxious, restless, or “on the edge”

  • Loss of interest in work, family, or once-pleasurable activities

  • Inability to meet the responsibilities of work, caring for family, or other important activities

  • A need for alcohol or drugs or other "escapes"

  • Withdrawing from family and friends or becoming isolated

  • Problems with sexual desire and sexual performance

  • Feeling sad, "empty," flat, or hopeless

  • Not being able to concentrate or remember details

  • Feeling very tired, not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much

  • Binge-eating or not wanting to eat at all

  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts

Depression might also be indicative of a depressive disorder or biological factors that might require further medical assessment or treatment. If the depressive symptoms persists or your risk for self-harm or impaired functioning increases.

Therapy can be helpful to those experiencing depressive symptoms.

Common techniques or approaches include cognitive-behavioural therapy, narrative therapy, internal family systems, interpersonal therapy, and dialectical behavioural therapy. Therapists may sometimes recommend trying short, simple goals or exercises to increase one's level of activity and connection. Therapists often work to treat both the symptoms of depression and the root causes of the depression, which may be deeper or involve trauma, childhood wounds, emotional regulation, grief and self-esteem. It is also recommended that one seek medical assessment to determine any underlying biological factors or hereditary factors that may impact one's susceptibility for depression.

Want to learn more?

Depression Therapy: Click here

Self-Esteem Therapy: Click here

Resources on Depression (Ontario Shores Link): Click here

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