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Do you feel empty, sad, and withdrawn from society? Are your life circumstances causing you to lose interest in the things that once brought you joy?
You may be suffering from depression. Depression is a prevalent and serious mental health condition that afflicts people regardless of age, gender, and background.
While men and women can be affected by depression, depressive symptoms in men can present themselves differently due to gender norms and societal expectations.
For instance, many men believe that they should hide their depression to uphold “masculine” traits. This includes coping mechanisms like bottling up their emotions, engaging in aggressive behavior, or dealing with their problems by themselves.
When left undiagnosed and untreated, men can choose to cause greater harm to their mental health and engage in harmful behavior.
In fact, one study has shown that men are more likely to commit suicide than women.
Given this harrowing statistic, loved ones need to recognize the signs of depression in men to provide them relief from the condition.
This needs to be approached holistically—meaning doctors and loved ones should address the physical symptoms, mental symptoms, and even sexual symptoms of this condition.
Without further ado, let’s dive deep into the characteristics behind male depression, including its signs and impact on sexual health.
Identifying Men’s Unique Symptoms of Depression
Let’s first define the meaning of depression that applies to both men and women.
Depression is a persistent feeling of sadness and apathy that makes you feel less sensitive to pleasure and emotionally stimulating scenarios. Over 7% of the entire world population is reported to have severe depression.
Some signs of depression in people include:
- Feeling sad and hopeless
- Inability to focus for extended periods
- Feeling apathy towards hobbies
- Feeling chronically tired
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Feelings of overwhelm
- Guilty and shame
The signs above are non-gender-specific. That said, male depression can look different from female depression because of the different strategies they utilize to cope with hard times.
Here are male-specific symptoms of depression in men:
- Inappropriate anger and irritability
- Loss of libido and erectile dysfunction
- Violent, domineering, and abusive behavior
- Escapist behavior, like overworking and overexercise
- Physical issues like stomach aches, chronic pain, and headaches
- Engaging in risky behavior like reckless driving
- Inability to control recreational drug use and other vices
If you or someone you love has these risk factors, you must see a mental health specialist to allow the affected person to access the mental health care they need.
The Link Between Depression and Male Sexual Health
Depression may be a mental disorder first and foremost; however, it can also cause dysfunction in other body parts. This includes the heart, the kidneys, and for men, their genitals.
There are multiple links in the thread connecting depression and sexual health.
Firstly, depression can cause men to lose sexual desire, even when sexual stimuli are present. This lowered libido level can cause men to engage in sex less frequently, which can be debilitating for couples who once had a satisfying sex life.
Secondly, erectile dysfunction can also occur in men with a mood disorder like depression. ED that’s primarily caused by psychological factors is called psychogenic ED, and it affects 40% of men over 40.
Reversing depression has been proven to improve ED symptoms; however, SSRI treatment—a commonly prescribed oral treatment for depressive patients—involves pills that inadvertently worsen ED symptoms, starting with a twofold reduction of libido.
SSRI drugs may also lead to anorgasmia—a condition that makes it extremely difficult for men to achieve an orgasm. In such cases, delayed ejaculation may also occur, causing significant sexual distress.
Depression can change the neural pathways in the brain and lower the production of key mood hormones, like serotonin and oxytocin. These hormones are important for regulating sexual desire—without enough of them, it’s easy for men to lose their interest in sex.
Lastly, depression can also weaken the bond of intimacy among romantic and sexual couples. Men may withdraw from their partners and cope in isolation, which can create a distance between the two parties and leave sex off the table.
Managing Male Depression and Sexual Health: Treatment and Strategies
If you’re diagnosed with depression, speak with your doctor about undergoing potential treatment plans to help you overcome your condition.
These are some strategies you can consider to help treat depression and sexual health concerns.
1. Professional Counseling
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an effective form of counseling that helps men overcome their condition.
These mental health professionals know how to apply different coping strategies to help men with different worldviews regain their spark and sexual life.
2. Medication (Non-SSRIs)
It’s important to take medication to deal with depressive symptoms. However, if you’re taking SSRIs and find them to contribute to your sexual dysfunction, then it’s worth bringing up to a doctor.
Doctors may prescribe you a lower dosage or a new type of antidepressant. These antidepressants include Bupropion, Mirtazapine, and Trintellix, to name a few.
3. Lifestyle Changes
Male depression can also be countered by making healthy progress in your daily life. Eating nutritious food, hitting the gym regularly, and sleeping at least 7 hours a night can help men manage depression more effectively.
This, in turn, can help men become sexually active.
4. Open Communication
It’s important to break down your emotional walls that are simultaneously hurting and protecting you. Let your partner know your pain and, when you’re ready, go to a therapist to talk about your problems.
Letting these people into your heart can restore your mind and help you build the path to a better life. It can bring you back to reality and grant you a second shot at a more sexually satisfying life.
Consult Medical Professionals for Guidance at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida’s Top Clinic for Men
There are no two ways about it: male major depressive disorder is a serious illness that can be a massive ball and chain to one’s life.
If you or a loved one are experiencing clinical depression symptoms, it’s important to seek treatment from a qualified mental health professional to treat depression.
Need guidance? The medical professionals at Preferred Men’s Medical Center can help you overcome sexual health problems that may contribute to depression, or symptoms that have manifested because of this serious mental illness.
Schedule an appointment with us today, your initial consultation and first treatment are completely free.