Anyone can experience depression, but the signs and symptoms vary among people. For example, some people express sadness, while others show anger or frustration. Women tend to be more expressive and willing to seek help for depression than men. However, men sometimes have more physical symptoms that are associated with depression.
While men and women may experience and express depression differently, making blanket statements about any group of people is inappropriate and can be harmful. In this article, the terms “men” and “women” refer to a gender description.
In This Article
Depression, also referred to as clinical depression or major depressive disorder, is a serious mental illness that is classified as a mood disorder. It affects all aspects of a person’s life, including how they think, feel, and perform everyday tasks.1 About 17% of people will experience major depression at some point in their lifetime, and about 3% to 5% have it at any given time. Globally, about 322 million people live with depression, and about 17.3 million people in the United States had at least one episode of depression in 2017. This represents about 7.1% of the population.2
There are two common forms of depression:3
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), major depressive disorder is defined as experiencing five or more of the following symptoms during the same two-week period, and at least one of those symptoms should be a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure:4
The exact causes of depression are not fully understood. However, some factors put people at a higher risk of depression, including:1,4
Signs and symptoms of depression in men vary, but may include:
Male-depression syndrome (Male-DS) refers to depressive symptoms that are more common in men. This constellation of symptoms does not specify that they must occur in men. In one study, Male-DS was more common in female students than in male students.5 Symptoms associated with Male-DS include:6
Men with depression may exhibit an increase in sexual activity as an escaping behavior7 or have less interest in sex, a lower libido, and an increase in erectile dysfunction. Relationship problems are common when one partner has depressive symptoms or major depressive disorder. Seeing a psychologist or counselor specializing in relationships and mood disorders may help. In addition, lifestyle changes may improve mood and increase male libido. Learn 7 methods to increase male libido.
Depression begins most commonly in the second and fifth decades of life. Women are diagnosed with major depressive disorders twice as often as men.8 Multiple reasons for this disparity have been considered, including:6
While undiagnosed depression is widespread in both populations, it is more common among men. Misdiagnosis in men is likely because of men’s tendencies to deny illness, self-monitor and self-treat symptoms, and avoid seeking help from healthcare practitioners.7
While men are less likely to be diagnosed with depression, they are four times more likely to die by suicide. In older men, this increases to seven times more likely.7 In 2017, the rate of suicide completion for men was 22.4%, and for women, it was 6.1%. Men tend to use more lethal means and show fewer signs of impending suicide.7
A study analyzing the symptoms of depression in men and women found when all potential symptoms of depression are considered, including the ones more common in men, the rate of depression in men and women is about the same.9
If you are experiencing depression, the highest priority is to let someone know you are feeling depressed and empty. Then, make an appointment with a healthcare provider. Medical conditions, such as vitamin D deficiency, hypothyroidism, hormonal imbalances, and prescribed medications, can contribute to depression.
If someone you know is experiencing symptoms consistent with depression, do not be afraid to ask them if they are considering suicide. Listen to their answer without judgment and help them establish a connection with someone who can help.
If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 988 in the United States. You can also text the Crisis Text Line (HELLO to 741741) or the Lifeline Chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.
Everyone experiences depression differently. Sometimes depression is triggered by external events, and commonly, it is not. You do not have to have a “reason” for being depressed. Sometimes you just are. The frequency, duration, and severity of your symptoms will probably differ greatly from those of another person living with depression. What works to improve mood and reduce depressive symptoms in one person may not work for another person with the same symptoms.
Besides medical care, lifestyle changes may help boost mood and reduce depressive symptoms. Try some or all of the following:
Depression is a serious medical condition. However, with time and support (both social and medical), you will start to feel better.
Supplements, such as Civance, can boost mental energy, improve mood and help with attention, cognition, and memory.
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While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.
1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Living Well with Major Depressive Disorder. https://www.samhsa.gov/serious-mental-illness/major-depression
2. Anxiety & Depression Association of America. What is anxiety and depression? https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety
3. National Institute of Mental Health. Depression. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression
4. Park LT, Zarate CA, Jr. Depression in the Primary Care Setting. N Engl J Med. Feb 7 2019;380(6):559-568. doi:10.1056/NEJMcp1712493
5. Möller-Leimkühler AM, Yücel M. Male depression in females? Journal of Affective Disorders. 2010/02/01/ 2010;121(1):22-29. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2009.05.007
6. Sedlinská T, Mühle C, Richter-Schmidinger T, Weinland C, Kornhuber J, Lenz B. Male depression syndrome is characterized by pronounced Cluster B personality traits. J Affect Disord. Sep 1 2021;292:725-732. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2021.05.114
7. Ogrodniczuk JS, Oliffe JL. Men and depression. Can Fam Physician. Feb 2011;57(2):153-5.
8. Kuehner C. Why is depression more common among women than among men? Lancet Psychiatry. Feb 2017;4(2):146-158. doi:10.1016/s2215-0366(16)30263-2
9. Martin LA, Neighbors HW, Griffith DM. The Experience of Symptoms of Depression in Men vs Women: Analysis of the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. JAMA Psychiatry. 2013;70(10):1100-1106. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.1985
10. Kvam S, Kleppe CL, Nordhus IH, Hovland A. Exercise as a treatment for depression: A meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2016/09/15/ 2016;202:67-86. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2016.03.063
11. Marx W, Lane M, Hockey M, et al. Diet and depression: exploring the biological mechanisms of action. Molecular Psychiatry. 2021/01/01 2021;26(1):134-150. doi:10.1038/s41380-020-00925-x