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Women are diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) more than men; however this may reflect a difference between the manifestation of MDD throughout the genders (Martin, Neighbors, Griffith, 2013; Call & Shafer, 2018). Depression is thought to be a disorder in which one exhibits low mood, insomnia or hypersomnia, fatigue, thoughts of worthlessness, inability to concentrate, weight loss or weight gain, and suicidal thoughts amongst others. However, there are instances in which men tend to ‘act out’ as opposed to ‘act inwards’. These symptoms are not typically perceived as symptoms of depression.

By ‘acting out’ I am referring to symptoms of; irritability, impatience and anger outbursts. This does not mean that these symptoms only occur in men. Women also have anger outbursts and are irritable when they suffer from MDD too, however it visibly would show that they are experiencing symptoms of depression concurrently with their acting out behaviour. Whilst in men this may be perceived as grumpy behaviour which would indicate that the individual is in a bad mood.

Typically, individuals who are not in favour of seeking help will tend to deny or blame others for their behaviour. This may further exacerbate the lives of others who live with them as due to being irritable and experience anger outbursts, the lives of those who love them may be at risk. Unfortunately, men are typically the perpetrators of domestic violence which can manifest itself through physical, psychological, financial or sexual means. Therefore, getting to the root cause of it when feeling irritable or angry will not only help the individual but also their families and communities.

It is important to seek the right support when one is experiencing these symptoms as research also states that men who seek support from professionals who are not specialised enough, do not receive follow up treatment for their symptoms (Call & Shafer, 2018). This is disheartening as the one chance that the individual summoned the courage to seek help and it didn’t work out, the chances are slim that the individual will seek help again.

If you find yourself or have a loved one who experiences these symptoms, it would be advisable to speak to mental health professionals in order to discuss the symptoms and process any issues which exist within the individual’s life. Whilst it may also be beneficial to start some lifestyle changes such as; diet, removing any negative habits, exercise, spending time outdoors and creating new routines.  It may also be beneficial to try to re-engage with certain hobbies or activities that used to bring pleasure to the individual or perhaps start new ones! This will aim to provide a sense of meaning and a sense of connectedness within the individual.

References

Martin, L.A., Neighbors, H.W., & Griffith, D.M. (2013). The experience of symptoms of depression in men vs women: analysis of the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. JAMA Psychiatry, 70, 1100–1106. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.1985 Call, J. B., & Shafer, K. (2018). Gendered Manifestations of Depression and Help Seeking Among Men. American journal of men’s health, 12(1), 41–51. doi:10.1177/1557988315623993

Karl Grech is a counsellor. He offers counselling to both individuals and couples within Willingness. He can be contacted on karl@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.