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couple outdoors with sailboats in distance; man appears sad while the woman tries to comfort him

Depression is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is a serious illness that affects the body, mood, and thoughts. People with a depressive illness cannot merely "pull themselves together" and choose to get better. Without treatment, depression can lead to personal, family, and financial problems, and, in some cases, to suicide.

Studies have found that depression is more common in women than men. But we don't know if depression is really less common in men.

You can get help

If you are having thoughts about suicide or harming yourself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
It may be that men are just less likely than women to recognize and seek help for depression. Some signs of depression include:
  • Ongoing sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyable, including sex
  • Decreased energy
  • Trouble staying focused, remembering, or making decisions
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Changes in appetite and/or weight
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Ongoing physical symptoms like headaches or digestive problems that don't get better with treatment
  • Thoughts of death, suicide, or suicide attempts

Men often cope with depression differently than women do. Men may turn to alcohol or drugs, or they may become frustrated, discouraged, angry, irritable, or, sometimes, violent.

If you have symptoms of depression or if emotional problems interfere with your work or family life, see your doctor. Treatment can help most people with depression. Treatment usually involves counseling (talk therapy), medication, or both. If you or someone you care about shows signs of depression, don't wait — seek help now.

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Content last updated: January 10, 2011.

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