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What causes depression in men?

February 23, 2014

(NIMH) — Depression is a serious but treatable medical condition- a brain disease- that can strike anyone, including men. In America alone, more than 6 million men have depression each year.
Whether you’re a company executive, a construction worker, a writer, a police officer, or a student; whether you are rich or poor; surrounded by loved ones or alone; you are not immune to depression. Some factors, however, such as family history, undue stress, the loss of a loved one, or serious illnesses can make you more vulnerable.
If left untreated, depression can lead to personal, family, and financial difficulties. With appropriate diagnosis and treatment, however, most people recover. The darkness disappears, hope for the future returns, and energy and interest in life becomes stronger than ever.
What causes depression in men?
Several factors may contribute to depression in men.
Genes—men with a family history of depression may be more likely to develop it than those whose family members do not have the illness.
Brain chemistry and hormones—the brains of people with depression look different on scans than those of people without the illness. Also, the hormones that control emotions and mood can affect brain chemistry.
Stress—loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship or any stressful situation may trigger depression in some men.
Most of the time, it is likely a combination of these factors. 
What are the signs and symptoms of depression in men?
Different people have different symptoms. Some symptoms of depression include:
• Feeling sad or “empty”
• Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or angry
• Loss of interest in work, family, or once-pleasurable activities, including sex
• Feeling very tired
• Not being able to concentrate or remember details
• Not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
• Overeating, or not wanting to eat at all
• Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
• Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
• Inability to meet the responsibilities of work, caring for family, or other important activities.
How is depression treated?
Medications called antidepressants can work well to treat depression. But they can take several weeks to work. Antidepressants can have side effects including:
• Headache
• Nausea, feeling sick to your stomach
• Difficulty sleeping and nervousness
• Agitation or restlessness
• Sexual problems.
Most side effects lessen over time. Talk to your doctor about any side effects you may have.
It’s important to know that although antidepressants can be safe and effective for many people, they may present serious risks to some, especially children, teens, and young adults. A “black box”—the most serious type of warning that a prescription drug can have—has been added to the labels of antidepressant medications. These labels warn people that antidepressants may cause some people to have suicidal thoughts or make suicide attempts, especially those who become agitated when they first start taking the medication and before it begins to work. Anyone taking antidepressants should be monitored closely, especially when they first start taking them.
For most people, though, the risks of untreated depression far outweigh those of antidepressant medications when they are used under a doctor’s supervision. Careful monitoring by a professional will also minimize any potential risks.
Several types of therapy can help treat depression. Some therapies are just as effective as medications for certain types of depression. Therapy helps by teaching new ways of thinking and behaving, and changing habits that may be contributing to the depression. Therapy can also help men understand and work through difficult situations or relationships that may be causing their depression or making it worse.
What are the different forms of depression?
The most common types of depression are:
Major depression—severe symptoms that interfere with a man’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy most aspects of life. An episode of major depression may occur only once in a person’s lifetime. But more often, a person can have several episodes.
Dysthymic disorder, or dysthymia—depressive symptoms that last a long time (2 years or longer) but are less severe than those of major depression.
Minor depression—similar to major depression and dysthymia, but symptoms are less severe and may not last as long.

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