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How To Recognize The Signs Of Depression And Anxiety In Men

Men have a higher rate of death by suicide than women.

In any given year, one in five Canadians experiences a mental health or addiction problem, and by the age of 40, one in two Canadians has or has had a mental illness, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Women often show higher rates of mood and anxiety disorders but these also affect men, who themselves have higher rates of addiction.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in Canadians aged 15 to 24, according to Statistics Canada, and nearly 4,000 Canadians die by suicide each year. Women attempt suicide three to four times as often than men, but more than 75 per cent of suicides are men.

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Here are 10 things you should know about depression and anxiety in men, including what the symptoms are and how you can help.

1. Depression Is A Male Disease, Too

Depression is often depicted in popular culture and media as a women's disease, but it's experienced by men as well — 10 per cent of men will experience major depression in their lifetime, according to the Movember Foundation.

2. There Are Tell-Tale Signs Of Depression

Watch for some of the common symptoms of clinical depression, Dr. Ray Kotwicki of the Skyland Trail treatment centre in Atlanta, Georgia, tells HuffPost Canada. These include changes in sleep patterns (too much or too little), changes in appetite (increased or decreased), a loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed, a lack of energy or problems maintaining focus and attention, isolation or avoidance of social interactions, and/or feelings of worthlessness.

3. And Signs Of Anxiety, As Well

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The symptoms of anxiety can be similar to depression, but many are distinct: increased blood pressure or heart rate, a feeling of lack of balance or vertigo, excess worry, or difficulty sleeping. Anxiety can occur on its own, or in conjunction with depression.

4. Anger Can Signal A Problem

For some men, depression or anxiety can manifest not as sadness but as anger or aggression. "If a man shows an increase in anger towards self or others, that should be a red flag to family and friends that one may be depressed," counsellor Whitney Owens tells HuffPost Canada.

These symptoms can also be associated with drug or alcohol abuse, which sometimes co-presents with mental illness. Risky behaviour, like dangerous driving, can be another symptom of depression or anxiety, therapist Abigail Sinclaire tells HuffPost Canada.

5. Watch For Escapist Behaviour

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While some people may exhibit a lack of interest in usual activities when they are depressed, others might involve themselves in them to an unhealthy degree. Sinclaire suggests watching for escapist behaviour like overworking, excessive gambling, or focusing on activities like sports-watching to the detriment of their relationships.

6. Men And Boys Often Hesitate To Ask For Help

Many men are socialized to believe that they shouldn't talk about emotions with friends or family. This can be physically and mentally harmful if someone is suffering from mental illness and feels they cannot reach out.

Encourage the men in your life to talk to you, and be willing to listen when they do. And make sure the young boys in your life know that it's OK to express your emotions, even negative ones — there are healthy and unhealthy ways to do so, but the emotions themselves can get out.

7. Men Experience A Much Higher Rate Of Death By Suicide Than Women

In Canada, three out of every four suicides are men or boys, according to the Movember Foundation. And some men are at greater risk than others: Indigenous youth have some of the highest suicide rates in the world, and one study found that about three-quarters of trans youth had considered suicide.

8. Don't Be Afraid To Start The Conversation

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People may hesitate to start a conversation with the men in their lives about mental wellness, but an uncomfortable conversation is worth it if you can help someone who is struggling. The Movember Foundation provides helpful tips for having those conversations with friends or family.

9. And Keep The Conversation Going

It's not enough to bring it up once and then never again. If someone opens up to you — or even if they don't but your concern remains — keep checking in, even if they don't reciprocate.

Sometimes when someone is depressed it can be exhausting or anxiety-provoking to reach out or respond, but that doesn't mean they don't appreciate knowing that you are there.

10. There Are Crisis Lines Available Across The Country

If you need help, or want to help someone else, don't be afraid to reach out — it might save a life. There are local crisis support lines available across the country. BroTalk is a special service of Kids Help Phone aimed specifically at adolescent boys of all gender identities. And if there is a danger of personal harm or death, go to an emergency room or call 911.

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