Depression is a severe and debilitating mental health disorder that affects people of all genders. Still, men may be particularly susceptible to certain risk factors that make diagnosing and treating it more difficult. Despite this, several effective treatments for depression can be tailored to the specific needs of men.
One main factor that makes treating depression in men unique is that men are less likely to seek help for mental health problems. This is often due to societal stereotypes and expectations that men should be strong, stoic, and self-reliant. However, these stereotypes can make it harder for men to recognize their problems and seek help.
There are many different signs of depression in men, notably feelings of restlessness, fatigue, lack of energy, or apathy. The physical symptoms of depression in men include digestive problems, heart palpitations, disturbed sleep, low drive, sexual dysfunction, aches and pains, and related symptoms. The cognitive symptoms are equally disturbing, notably concentration difficulties, OCD thinking, recall problems, and racing thoughts.
Medications Offer Solutions with a Caveat
One proven treatment for depression is medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, known as SSRIs, as well as serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, known as SNRIs. These types of antidepressants work by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, which can help to alleviate symptoms of depression.
SSRIs and SNRIs are two types of medications commonly used to treat depression. Both types of medications work by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters localized in the brain, which can help to alleviate symptoms of depression.
Common side effects of SSRIs & SNRIs include:
- Sexual dysfunction: SSRIs and SNRIs can cause sexual dysfunction, like difficulty with arousal, ejaculation, or decreased libido.
- Nausea: This is one of these medications’ most common side effects, and it usually goes away after a few days.
- Diarrhea: This is another common side effect of these medications, which can also be resolved in a few days.
- Dizziness: Some people may experience dizziness or lightheadedness when they start taking these medications.
- Insomnia or drowsiness: Some people may have trouble sleeping when they first start taking these medications, while others may feel drowsy or tired during the day.
- Agitation or restlessness: Some people may feel more agitated or restless when they take these medications.
- Headaches: Some people may experience headaches when they first start taking these medications, which usually go away after a few days.
- Dry mouth: Some people may experience dry mouth when they take these medications.
It is also possible, although less common, to experience serious side effects like an increase in suicidal thoughts, especially in children, adolescents, and young adults. Therefore, careful monitoring is needed when these medications are prescribed for these populations.
Remember that side effects vary from person to person, and not everyone will experience the same side effects. However, if the side effects are severe, persistent, or worrying, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider. They might adjust your dosage or switch to a different medication.
Alternatives to Medication and Surgical Procedures Do Exist
Unfortunately, medications are not without side effects. Another effective treatment for depression is psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT). These therapy forms can help men understand and address the underlying causes of their depression and develop coping mechanisms to manage their symptoms better.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is also gaining tremendous traction among mental health professionals in recent years as another viable option for treating depression. Deep TMS™ by BrainsWay is a newer version of TMS. This targeted treatment uses a specialized H-Coil to deliver treatment to specific areas of the brain responsible for various brain disorders. It is a noninvasive, non-surgical procedure and has no lasting side effects. For these reasons, Deep TMS can be considered a viable option and adjunct to medication.
EMDR is another therapy that’s still relatively new but backed by a lot of data. EMDR, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, is a form of therapy that involves moving your eyes while you process trauma. The goal is to change the emotions, behaviors, or thoughts associated with a distressing experience, allowing the brain to resume the healing process. While you should perform EMDR with the help of a mental health professional, you can eventually get to the stage where you can use EMDR tools at home.
Co-occurring Disorders in Men
It’s also important to consider the possibility of co-occurring disorders, such as substance abuse and personality disorders, that can complicate the treatment of depression in men. These disorders can make it harder for men to respond to treatment and may require specialized care. In those cases, it would be important to treat these conditions simultaneously to increase the chance of recovery.
Men may be more susceptible to certain co-occurring disorders than women, depending on the specific condition. For example, men are likely to develop substance use disorders, particularly concerning alcohol and drugs like cocaine and marijuana. They are also more likely to engage in risky behavior, increasing their chances of developing a co-occurring disorder.
Research studies indicate that men tend to have high rates of comorbidity for substance use disorders and depression, antisocial personality disorder and depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and other disorders. Additionally, men have been found to have higher rates of personality disorders, such as antisocial and borderline personality disorder.
These disorders are characterized by a pattern of intense and unstable relationships, impulsive behavior, and difficulty regulating emotions, and can make it harder to treat depression and other mental health disorders. However, it’s important to note that these findings are based on general trends and may not apply to every individual.
Plus, these general trends might be influenced by sociocultural norms or environments contributing to these statistical differences. It is also worth mentioning that this research is still ongoing, and more studies are needed to understand the underlying causes of these disparities and how to address them best.
It is important for healthcare providers to be aware of these trends and to screen for co-occurring disorders in men who are seeking treatment for depression. By identifying and treating these disorders, healthcare providers can improve the chances of successful treatment for depression and other mental health disorders.
In conclusion, depression is a severe mental health disorder affecting men and women. But men may be particularly susceptible to certain risk factors that make diagnosing and treating it more difficult. Overall, mental health professionals are expertly trained to identify, analyze, and treat various anxiety-related disorders in men.
Despite the difficulties, several effective treatments for depression can be tailored to the specific needs of men, including medication, psychotherapy, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. We know that men need to actively seek help for depression, despite societal stereotypes and expectations. Healthcare providers need to be aware of the unique challenges men may face when seeking treatment for mental health disorders.