Signs & Symptoms of Depression In Men

Depression doesn’t look the same for everyone. Men, in particular, often express their depression differently from women, due to social norms and expectations about their masculinity. It’s important to recognize what depression looks like in men so it can be accurately diagnosed and treated. Here are several signs of depression in men and how to get help.

What Is Depression?

depressed man

Depression is a serious mental health issue that can affect every part of a person’s life. The major signs are feelings of sadness and worthlessness, fatigue, and a loss of interest in pleasurable activities. In men, depression can often go unnoticed. There is still a negative social stigma against men seeking treatment for their mental health. So they may not be willing to be vulnerable with others about their struggles.

Pushing their feelings down and remaining stoic can actually make depression much worse in the long run. Men tend to also talk about their physical symptoms (fatigue, insomnia, pains) rather than the emotional ones, which masks the true cause behind what’s affecting them. Here are the typical signs of depression in men:


Men tend to externalize their emotions. While women struggling with depression are more likely to feel sad or hopeless and to internalize those emotions, men are more often angry and volatile and lash out. This anger can also manifest as short-tempered-ness or controlling behaviors. As such, their relationships tend to become strained as their depression progresses—anger and irritability lead to more frequent arguments with partners and loved ones.

Substance Abuse

Many men turn to alcohol or drugs as a maladaptive coping mechanism for their depressive symptoms. While substances initially numb the pain, long-term substance abuse becomes a problem all on its own. A vicious cycle can emerge: a man uses because he is depressed, then becomes more depressed from using. He and his loved ones then might focus more on his substance abuse issues than the underlying depression that fuels it.

Risk-Taking Behaviors

Risky behaviors can also mask emotional pain. These might include driving recklessly, having unsafe sex, or participating in dangerous sports. The temporary adrenaline rush provides an outlet for their emotional frustration and masking.

Escapist Behaviors

Like substance abuse and risk-taking, men may engage in other behaviors that take their minds off their emotions. They may throw themselves fully into work, sports, or exercise. These behaviors can also be rewarded—working too much, for example, can be seen as a sign of masculinity.

Physical Symptoms

Depression also often manifests physically in men. They tend to experience chronic fatigue, unexplained aches and pains, and digestive problems. Men might report feeling tired all the time despite adequate sleep or experiencing headaches and muscle tension that have no obvious physical cause.

Hallmark Symptoms

Men also have hallmark symptoms, similar to women. They may suffer from sleep disturbances, such as sleeping too much or too little. They might also have changes in appetite—eating for emotional comfort or feeling less hungry than usual. This can of course lead to weight fluctuations. Men often also lose interest in the activities they typically enjoy, which can lead to withdrawing from friends and family.

Getting Help

If you suspect you or a man in your life is struggling with depression, don’t wait to reach out for help. With intervention from mental health professionals, depression is treatable. After diagnosis by a doctor, you can begin a treatment plan that may include prescribed antidepressants, therapy, or a combination of the two. In depression therapy, you’ll learn healthy coping mechanisms for negative feelings, how to identify and confront your emotions, and how to change negative thinking patterns.

To find out more about what depression looks like in men, please reach out to us.

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor at Ammirati Counseling
Terri A. Ammirati, LCPC, has 25+ years of clinical experience. She is a Certified Gottman Therapist and presents Gottman's "The Art and Science of Love" couples workshop.

Terri specializes in empowering clients to strengthen their relationships. She works with all aspects of relational distress and provides solution-focused therapy.
Terri A. Ammirati