Though the saying goes that “A happy wife makes a happy life,” every woman I know would tell you that when their partners are struggling, it’s hard to be happy. Yet, it’s not always as easy to recognize when anger or unhappiness is really something more. That’s why I wanted to do a deep dive into recognizing what depression looks like in men. This Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s crucial that there’s a broader conversation about how prevalent this mood disorder is in men and why a good chunk of the population doesn’t seek out treatment.

If you believe your male partner is experiencing depression, it’s important to learn the facts so you can help support them during this difficult time.

Depression leads to a consistent sadness and a general sense of apathy. This mood disorder can be a hurdle for people to accomplish their goals. [1] How prevalent is depression in the United States? 7.1% of American adults (17.3 million) have experienced one major depressive episode.[2]  Out of that population, 6.3 million are men.[3] Though depression is prevalent, not enough Americans are getting treatment. According to a National Institute of Mental Health study, 35% of American adults who have depression haven’t had the treatment to work on these issues. [4] Unfortunately, men are particularly less likely to reach out to get the help they need to tackle their mental health issues. [5]

There are varying kinds of depression. [6] Each has their own set of symptoms that may overlap but lead to distinct diagnosis.

  • Psychotic depression can lead to very serious symptoms that may result in psychosis (delusions and hallucinations).
  • On the other hand, persistent depressive disorder is less severe than major depression but can last for multiple years. Also known as dysthymic disorder, this kind of depression impacts 1.5% of American adults. [7]
  • Seasonal affective disorder stems from the change of the seasons and people experience usually in the autumn and the winter when the weather goes from bright to darker. [8]
  • Another variation of the mood disorder is minor depression which is similar to major depression but generally less intense and typically lasts for a shorter period of time. [9] This is pretty prevalent — a study found that 16% of adults have had symptoms of this mood disorder. [10]
  • Though bipolar disorder is not a kind of depression, it triggers intense changes in mood and one’s ability to complete daily tasks. When someone has bipolar disorder, they can have episodes of depression and then shift to a period of mania. The National Institute of Mental Health projects that 4.4% of American adults will have a bipolar episode within their lifetimes. [11]

When we love someone, we want them to be healthy. And not just their physical health, but mental health as well.

If you want to help your partner fight depression, you can let him know that he shouldn’t feel ashamed about what’s happening.  Though being sad every now and then is a fairly typical part of being human, it’s important to note that a licensed professional has to diagnose you with the condition of depression.  If your partner is constantly feeling sad and apathetic, encourage them to seek out the help from a psychiatrist or psychologist who can diagnose them and help them come up with a roadmap to managing their mental health.

One part of improving mental health is changing one’s lifestyle for the better.

To be a supportive partner, you should be open-minded to enthusiastically embracing these new lifestyle approaches. For instance, it’s been shown that exercise can boost mental health. [12] In addition to encouraging your partner to get professional help, you can sign up for workout classes with them and spend time cooking healthier meals.

Another great option is taking a life improvement class together. I offer a wide range of courses and books that can help you and your partner learn how to declutter and focus on what makes the two of you happy.

Depression is a very prevalent mood disorder and with the right treatments, people can find a way to manage it. Men should feel open and safe to make the necessary changes to improve their mental health. Sometimes that means that you need to be the advocate for your partner to ensure he knows you’re on his side. And ready to love and support him no matter what.

If you want to explore more for Mental Health Awareness, here’s links to the research presented here in this article.



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Credit for Infographic: ForHims.Com

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