In his book, Unmasking Male Depression, Dr. Archibald D. Hart presents a frank discussion of depression in males. This is the one book that validated the crazy feelings I couldn’t explain. The grey my life had become. The intense, unexplained sadness that matured since I was in middle school. It crystallized my reality and helped me understand who I was. If you’re a male who is as confused as I was, I encourage you to buy this book.
In this post I take two sections from the book that clearly defined male depression for me.
Distinguishing Male Depression.
Dr. Hart differentiates male depression from female depression quite succinctly.
“Female depression is most often diagnosed by the pattern of feelings a a woman is experiencing. Male depression is better diagnosed by the behaviors associated with depression … Woman … get sad; men get mad and irritable. They get grumpy or discouraged, and all they can talk about is being angry and upset about something or other. we have to look at how men act, not at how they feel. Angry outbursts, becoming easily annoyed, increased sexual activity, workaholism, emotional and social withdrawal, coldness, aloofness, and even forms of family violence are nearer the depression mark than the crying and hopelessness of female depression.” (7)
I could certainly identify with the irritability and the angry outbursts he defined for me on these pages. I could identify with depression’s manifestation in behaviors and not feelings. Certainly I was sad, don’t get me wrong. When Specter’s dagger claws scratched out of the corner of my soul, I came down in an emotional collapse. I cried endlessly and hopelessly. In the fetal position. On my kitchen floor. But the book really helped me understand where my actions were coming from. It alleviated A LOT of confusion for me.
Variations in Mood.
Dr. Hart describes what he calls “diurnal variation in mood” (25) – when moods seem to follow time-based patterns. For instance, feeling worse in the morning and progressively better throughout the day. Nighttime being the best time of the day. Those who suffer the symptoms from such depression fear going to bed because they know they will wake up feeling as bad as they did that morning.
The reasoning here is that
“sleep aggravates the adrenal system, which is already being suppressed by the depression. Sleep shuts this system down even farther. In other words, while sleep helps people who are not depressed to rejuvenate their adrenal systems and thus restore energy, in depressed people the ‘shutdown’ of the adrenal system causes it to want to stay shut down.” (25)
SOURCE – Unmasking Male Depression. Dr. Archibald D. Hart, ©2001
Thank you for taking the time to read about these two symptoms. I pray that by reading, you may have a little more clarity about your condition and realize that you are not crazy or alone in your struggles.