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No one is immune from depression. The mood disorder can affect both women and men at any age. We typically associate feelings of sadness and despair with depression. While these symptoms are common, depression often manifests differently in men.

A man suffering from depression may be more likely to feel very tired and irritable. Some men are more likely to have difficulty sleeping than women who have depression. While some men may pull away from their jobs, others may deal with depression by throwing themselves compulsively into their work. And, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), although women with depression are more likely to attempt suicide, men are more likely to die by suicide.

Depression is not always easy to recognize. Many men do not acknowledge or seek help for their depression and may hesitate to openly discuss how they are feeling. Men are more likely than women to report alcohol and drug abuse or dependence in their lifetime. And unfortunately, if a man is drinking too much or using drugs, the effects can mask depression, making it even more difficult to recognize.

The good news is depression is treatable and most men can get better. In fact, more than 80 percent of people with a depressive illness improve with appropriate treatment.

Are you concerned about a man in your life? It is important for family members, friends, and coworkers to be on the lookout for symptoms of depression in men. Support from a trusted loved one can make a big impact in the life of  someone secretly suffering from a mood disorder.

Here are some tips from from the National Institute of Mental Health:

  • If you know someone who has depression, first help him find a doctor or mental health professional and make an appointment.
  • Offer him support, understanding, patience, and encouragement.
  • Talk to him, and listen carefully.
  • Never ignore comments about suicide, and report them to his therapist or doctor.
  • Invite him out for walks, outings and other activities. If he says no, keep trying, but don’t push him to take on too much too soon.
  • Encourage him to report any concerns about medications to his health care provider.
  • Ensure that he gets to his doctor’s appointments.
  • Remind him that with time and treatment, the depression will lift.

Encourage the men in your life to speak up about their mental health. For those living in Massachusetts, visiting www.MassMen.org can be a great first step. There you will find a mental health screening and a directory of local suicide prevention resources. Depression is not a sign of weakness and is never a normal part of life. Seeking help for this treatable illness takes strength and support, but recovery is possible.

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