How Depression Looks Different in Men

In mental health by Tree House Recovery

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 17 million American adults experienced an episode of major depression in the past year. [] Women are slightly more likely than men to experience depression–8.7 percent of women experienced depression in 2017 compared to 5.3 percent of men–but experts believe that depression is under-diagnosed in men. Men are far less likely than women to seek help for a mental health issue, or even tell anyone about it. As a result, fewer cases of depression in men are reported. Another issue is that the symptoms of depression are different for men, so they might not even recognize they have depression. Some common symptoms of depression for everyone include depressed mood, loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, disturbed sleep, poor concentration, feelings of worthlessness, weight changes, and thoughts of suicide or death. The following are the major ways depression symptoms are different for men.

Anger instead of sadness

If you think depression is mainly a form of deep, prolonged sadness, you’re likely to miss one of the most common depression symptoms in men–anger. While women are more likely to experience depression as sadness, men are more likely to experience it as anger, irritability, or aggression. This may have to do with how men are socialized to express emotions. Boys are taught to be tough and not to cry. While men are discouraged from expressing emotions, expressing anger or aggression is typically more acceptable than expressing sadness or hopelessness. Losing your temper easily or getting into fights might be a symptom of depression.

Physical pain

Many people are not aware that physical pain is often a symptom of depression. Depression is associated with low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which, among other things, moderates pain. Depression is also closely associated with anxiety. As a result, someone who is depressed may notice aches, fatigue, headaches, stomach cramps, back pain, or chest pain. [] He may go to the doctor about these symptoms and depression may not have occurred to him at all.


Men are more likely than women to self-medicate their symptoms of depression with drugs or alcohol. One study found that among people with mood disorders, 32 percent had a co-occurring substance use disorder. [] And among people with bipolar disorder, their lifetime risk of a substance use disorder was 56 percent. Often, people don’t even realize they’re self-medicating; they just know drugs and alcohol make them feel less bad.

Risky behavior

The final major red flag for men with depression is risky behavior. Men are more prone to risky behavior in general, especially younger men but behaviors such as driving too fast, driving drunk, reckless substance use, having unprotected sex, and getting injured doing foolish things may be indications of depression.


Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon uses cutting-edge techniques in individualized programs to help men achieve freedom from addiction. Taking a holistic, sustainable approach to the inner and outer effects of addiction ensures you or your loved one will emerge with the confidence and skills to manage your addiction independently. No one is beyond help- our Admissions Counselors are available 24/7 at (503) 850-2474