Healthwatch: Depression in Men

Nineteen million Americans suffer from depression. In years past it was thought of almost exclusively as a woman's problem, but now doctors are saying it affects men equally.

Doctors are finally realizing that depression takes a toll on both sexes. It can just manifest itself differently. The toll can be both mental and physical, but it is treatable.

Many men are brought up to believe that expressing emotions is largely a feminine trait. Doctors say that may be one of the reasons men respond to being depressed in a more physical way.

Dr. Anthony Reading is the Medical Director of Bay Behavioral and says, "Women get tearful and cry when they're depressed. Men get irritable and angry. Men also do other things; they tend to drink excessively when they get depressed."

While women have depression twice as often as men, men commit suicide four times as much.

Dr. Reading says many of the symptoms of depression in men are usually things they don't want to talk about, such as decreased sexual performance and behavior. If you don't get help it can affect you physically.

"There's growing evidence that depression is as much a risk factor for heart attacks and stroke as cholesterol. People who are depressed have twice the rate of getting heart attack and stroke.

The good news is depression for both men and women is treatable according to Dr. Reading.

“Men respond just as readily as women. There are lots of famous men these days, Mike Wallace on TV, Dick Cavett who have been depressed and talk about it. I think that makes it easier for men to sort of front up and get treated."

Dr. Reading is with Bay Medical's Bay Behavioral Health Center. He says for a free confidential assessment or if you just have questions, you can call Bay Behavioral at 763-0017.