Recognizing the Signs of Depression in Men

Men are often cited as having lower instances of depression than women yet this is partially a result of men’s’ tendencies to deny illness, self-medicate, and avoid seeing professionals. The truth is men get depressed – it’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a fact. Depression affects 840,000 men every year in Canada, and is the second leading cause of disability worldwide.

Guy in Alley_REDUX_Refe_56c0be1fcd786_XCT0MIY2QJSigns of Depression in Men

In the early stages of depression in men symptoms sometimes don’t match up with traditional definitions. These signs and symptoms can mask the more typical symptoms of depression (eg, sadness, crying, feelings of guilt, changes in appetite).

Here are some of the common symptoms of depression in men to look for.

  • Physical Pain
    • Sometimes depression in men can show up as backache, frequent headaches, sleep problems, sexual dysfunction, or digestive problems that don’t seem to respond to normal treatment.
  • Anger
    • This can include irritability, being overly sensitive to criticism, losing your sense of humour, experiencing frequent road rage, having a short temper, being controlling, or being verbally or physically abusive toward others.
  • Reckless or Escaping Behaviour
    • This could mean pursuing dangerous sports, driving recklessly, or engaging in unsafe sex. Men might drink too much, abuse drugs, or gamble compulsively. Men may also become overly involved at work, neglecting other aspects of life.
    • Another escaping behaviour concerns some men’s tendency to become overly sexually active, usually in the form of extramarital affairs or a series of brief, emotionless sexual encounters.

The symptoms of depression in men described above can be part of life’s normal ebbs and flows and don’t always signal depression. But the more symptoms, the stronger they are, and the longer they’ve lasted—the more likely it is that someone is dealing with depression.

HeadsUpGuysWays to Help

Depression can often be a very difficult issue for men to discuss. Help start the conversation and create a safe space for men to openly discuss some of the challenges they may be facing. Encourage a man to seek professional support and normalize the experience by letting him know how common depression is and that many men have recovered from depression.

Learn more about how to support a man with depression at HeadsUpGuys, along with tips on how to start talking about it and how to provide ongoing support. For additional resources around men’s depression and mood disorders, visit The Red Book Online.


This post has been graciously contributed by HeadsUpGuys.

HeadsUpGuys is a resource built to support men in their fight against depression by providing tips, tools, information about professional services, and stories of success. HeadsUpGuys was created in partnership with the Movember Foundation and the University of British Columbia.

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