Sudden behavior changes in the men in your life could be signs of a shift in their mental health. These signs may reveal that a friend, family member, or coworker needs help for depression or even both depression and addiction. Your role as a support system can only become more valuable by learning how to recognize symptoms of depression and understand the connection of depression to substance use disorders.
Signs of depression in men can show up in a variety of ways. They include changes in mood, behavior, and appetite. The intensity of negative emotions may appear and be accompanied by hostility and aggression. Depression that occurs within someone with a substance use disorder is not uncommon. A man with a mental health disorder and addiction can benefit from dual diagnosis treatment. This holistic approach to healing and recovery integrates multiple therapies to set up a man for recovery success as he works to build a sober life.
10 Symptoms of Depression in Men
Here are ten common signs of depression in men:
- Intensity of his negative emotions increases.
Expressing negative emotions can be common in some men every day. The difference with negative emotions associated with the onset of depression is their intensity. A reaction of anger or irritation may be more severe than expected in a situation. A man with depression may exhibit signs of hostility and aggression when these negative emotions appear.
- Changes in his appetite occur.
A man experiencing depression may stop eating altogether, eat less than usual, or consume food more frequently and in larger amounts. To mask these changes, he may not join friends or family for routine meal times or tell people he already ate if he thinks they might be concerned about his appetite change.
- Struggles for him to remember important details begin.
Everyone can forget trivial information, but difficulty remembering names, places, and commitments may signify a change to mental health.
- Suicide gets mentioned by him casually in conversation.
Suicide is rarely an expected part of casual conversation. His mention of it could be a response to what he’s thinking. He may suggest the topic came from something he saw in the news or a TV show. The fact that the subject resonated enough with him to bring it up is a sign he may want to harm himself.
- Physical discomfort or pain becomes noticeable in him.
Physical symptoms can accompany depression. Headaches and cramps are among them. When these conditions cannot be explained by a cold and an injury, they may be related to emotional stress or depression.
- Isolating himself becomes routine.
Someone who is actively engaged in social situations may begin to avoid people. The isolation of someone who usually spends more time alone may be harder to detect. It can be helpful to reach out to the friends of the depressed person to get a bigger picture of their potential changes in social connectivity.
- Losing interest in his preferred activities begins.
A man with depression may stop participating in his favorite daily or weekly activities. It could be working out, riding his bike, hiking, or other activities that can be done alone or with others.
- High-risk choices become common.
Risky behavior can come from feeling lost or hopeless and wanting to test his limits. It could show up as drinking heavily or starting to use drugs. He may begin to drink and drive. The behavior could be putting himself in places where the risk of physical injury is higher or where he neglects routine safety practices.
- Sleep troubles start to plague him.
Like other signs of depression, sleep can move in two directions. He may sleep more and feel no ambition to function most days. On the flip side, he may struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep. Even when getting what looks like an adequate amount of sleep, he could still appear to be tired.
- Changes to his sexual performance become noticeable.
A man with depression might have trouble initiating sex or maintaining interest in it. He may create excuses to avoid the act altogether. An intimate partner will be the person to notice this type of change.
5 Causes of Depression in Men
Signs of depression in men may have several causes, including:
- Genetics can play a role in a man’s depression.
- Genetics don’t predict who will become depressed, but they can increase the risk. A man’s DNA can be a factor in developing depression as an adolescent or an adult. A family history of depression is considered one significant influence on someone’s potential for developing a mental health disorder.
- Environmental stresses can lead to depression in men.
Environmental stress can come from a wide variety of sources. Some of them have negative connotations, including financial instability, job loss, problems at work, loss of a loved one, or ongoing stressful situations. Significant life changes generally considered positive can be counted among the environmental stresses that cause depression (e.g., getting engaged or married, having a child, accepting a new job, or relocating to a new city).
- The onset of a long-term illness can be a factor in a man’s depression.
Illness can affect mental health in more ways than one. The diagnosis itself can worsen depression in a man as he feels powerless in facing the effects it’s having on his body and on his life. Any medications that he’s taking for a long-term illness can exacerbate the symptoms of depression as well.
- A serious physical injury may contribute to depression in men.
A man who defines his masculinity by physical achievements and capability may experience depression when a serious robs him of those attributes. The injury could lead to temporary or permanent results. Existing depression may intensify if he feels discouraged by adapting to his new reality.
- A substance use disorder can increase the risk of a man developing depression.
Mental health disorders and substance use disorders have a unique relationship. One can precede the other, and both can make the other disorder more problematic. A man who becomes addicted to a drug may experience depression when he begins to face circumstances connected to his substance use. The results may include losing a job, hurting a loved one, facing legal consequences or jail time, or becoming financially dependent on a parent again.
Depression and Addiction: How It’s Connected
The relationship between depression and addiction can start with one and expand to include the other. One scenario can be seen in men whose depression goes undiagnosed for years. It may begin in adolescence, be caused by an environmental factor, or stem from family genes. When symptoms of depression go unchecked, a young man may try to counter feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and low self-esteem with drugs or alcohol.
Instead of treating depression early, the young man who focuses on self-medicating with substances increases his risk of developing an addiction. For example, the risk of becoming addicted to marijuana is higher when using that particular drug starts in the teenage years. Over the years, each disorder can impact the development of the other.
By the time the young man is an adult, he may be using drugs or drinking daily. He hasn’t lessened the appearance of his depression symptoms. He may need to use substances more frequently to minimize the symptoms.
Depression can be an outcome of years of substance use, too. As these disorders have overlapping symptoms, it can be difficult sometimes to accurately assess which came first. The main takeaway for a patient who wants to live a healthy life is to know that treatment for both a mental health concern and an addiction to cocaine, alcohol, marijuana, or pills is within reach and readily available.
Treatment for Depression and Addiction for Men
Men living with depression and a substance use disorder may have attempted to get sober by getting treatment for the drinking or drug problem alone. Without attention to their mental health, the chances of sustaining sobriety shrink, and the risk for relapse increases. Luckily for them, a treatment option designed for their specific needs is available.
Dual diagnosis treatment is intended for men with a substance use disorder and co-occurring mental health disorder. Patients are treated in a personalized and holistic fashion. Integrating both elements of treatment increases the chances for recovery and sets a patient up for future success with continuing care options.
Men experiencing depression can learn strategies for coping with those feelings within individual therapy sessions. These one-on-one meetings can involve a variety of therapies to address the issues tied to depression. They also provide learning skills to change drug or alcohol behaviors.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of those treatments that can be used for both depression and substance use in men. CBT can help men learn better coping skills for the stresses of life. It can introduce ways their past perceptions were distorted and may have added to depression and substance use. Men working with CBT can grow in their confidence to change their behavior and practice problem-solving skills for both symptoms of depression and cravings for substances.
Origins Recovery Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration.
We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.
For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1019.