How to Spot Depression in Men

By: Tori Bowlin

June 01, 2024

Unhappy man sitting at table with hands on his head

Is a man in your life struggling with depression? Many men find it difficult to acknowledge when they need help. Recognize their unique warning signs of depression with insights from psychologist Dr. Herbert Coard. Over 6 million men are diagnosed annually, often displaying symptoms like anger and aggression instead of sadness. Learn how to support them and understand these often-misinterpreted indicators.

Behavioral Signs of Depression in Men

High levels of the hormone cortisol are released during stressful situations affecting the neurotransmitter, serotonin (a feel-good hormone), contributing to depression. You can identify depression or suicidal tendencies by paying close attention to the following behavioral changes:
  • Anger, irritability, or aggression
  • Avoiding family or social situations
  • Losing interest in family responsibilities, passions and hobbies
  • Lack of sex drive
  • Becoming controlling/abusive in relationships
  • Risk-taking behavior such as; unsafe sex, overspending or gambling
  • Not being able to concentrate or remember details
  • Excessive drinking or drug use
  • Having frequent thoughts about death
  • Talking about suicide
  • Attempting suicide

Factors That Lead to Depression in Men

Life Events

Work stress or long-term unemployment can be huge contributing factors relating to depression. This type of life event can be overwhelming, making it impossible for a man to cope.

Changes in Relationships

The loss of a relationship can be a significant contributing factor to the emergence of depressive symptoms and past experienced physical, sexual, or emotionally abusive relationships. With this in mind, counseling can often help individual to overcome this type of trauma.

Grief and Loss

Overwhelming sadness due to the loss of a loved one can trigger depression. Although normal, each person goes through their own grieving period. For example, normal responses to death are insomnia, poor appetite and loss of interest in activities. Pay attention if grief seems prolonged or out of the ordinary.

Health Problems

In particular, depression coexists with medical conditions. As men age, this can be passed off as normal aging, but it could be more serious. In addition, illnesses such as thyroid disorders, Addison’s disease and liver disease can cause depressive symptoms. Diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or Parkinson’s disease can affect any age, thus triggering or worsening depression. Some older men also feel like they may be suffering from dementia because of difficulties with memory this may be a symptom of depression. A trip to the doctor may be in order to help alleviate concern and worry.

Depression in Men and Suicide

Frequently the emotional pain occurring with depression can distort a man’s ability to see a solution beyond suicide. Individuals with depression become very rigid and constricted in the way they solve problems. The statistics below speak for themselves, helping us understand the need to reach out to those who need our support.

  • Male suicide rates are on rising – men die by suicide 3.53 times more often than women, accounting for 70% of all suicides. Sadly, every day 129 men commit suicide.
  • White males accounted for 69.67% of suicide deaths in 2017.
  • In 2017, firearms accounted for 50.57% of all suicide deaths.
  • Middle aged Men who are middle aged have the highest suicide rates.
  • 40% of those identifying as transgender have attempted suicide in their lifetime.
  • Males who are guy or transgendered are at an increased risk for suicide attempts, especially before age 25.
  • Veterans often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, and are more likely to act on a suicide plan.

How You Can Help

Now that you can identify some of the warning signs of depression, here’s how you can help:

  • Talk about your concern and communicate that you’re there to help him.
  • Let him know depression is a medical condition and will usually get better with treatment.
  • Suggest professional help from a Primary Care Provider, Psychologist or Therapist.
  • Help set up appointments and offer to accompany him – let him make the decision, but make it clear you’re there for him, no matter what he decides.
  • If you feel he is in a dire or life-threatening situation, contact 911.
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to talk to a trained counselor.
  • Call the Veteran’s Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) and press “1”


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