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Bipolar Depression Symptoms in Men Hard to Deal With

Bipolar depression symptoms in men can be hard to deal with. The symptoms themselves can make functioning seem like an insurmountable challenge. In severe cases, even getting out of bed or off the couch is nearly impossible. But for many men, bipolar depression symptoms aren’t the only challenge. The stigma of facing depression, of admitting that something is wrong mentally and emotionally, keeps a lot of men suffering in silence.

Partly because of the silence surrounding bipolar depression in guys, it can seem as though no one else is dealing with the problem. That’s an illusion created by a lack of conversations about bipolar depression symptoms in males. The reality is that if you’re male and living with bipolar depression, you’re not alone. Depression is a mental health struggle that over six million men in the United States face every year (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), n.d.).

Because bipolar depression is so difficult to live with and all too common, let’s explore men’s bipolar depression symptoms.

Bipolar Depression Symptoms in Males

Bipolar depression, according to the American Psychiatric Association’s authoritative Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, is one of the mood episodes people with bipolar I or bipolar II disorder experience. The other is mania or hypomania. To be diagnosed with bipolar depression, someone must have at least five of the following symptoms and experience them together for at least two consecutive weeks.

One or both of these:

  • Depressed mood nearly all the time
  • Loss of interest and drastically diminished feelings of pleasure in almost all activities once enjoyed

Three or four (or more) of these symptoms:

  • Exhaustion that doesn’t lift
  • Weight changes (loss or gain) without trying
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Feeling agitated or slowed down
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating, paying attention, and/or making decisions
  • Sense of worthlessness and strong (and misplaced) feelings of guilt

Many bipolar depression symptoms are similar for males and females. Men and women sometimes experience them differently, though.  For example, it’s slightly more common for men than women to experience these bipolar depression symptoms while also in a state of mania.  This blend of mania and depression can be overwhelming, exhausting, and frustrating.

Also overwhelming, exhausting, and frustrating for a lot of men is how to deal with the presence of bipolar depression in their lives.

Ways That Many Men Deal with Symptoms of Bipolar Depression

Cultural norms dictate that men be strong, independent, self-reliant, stable, and possess emotional control. By extension, males tend to associate bipolar depression with character flaws and weakness. Men, therefore, aren’t always willing to admit to struggling—especially emotionally. Many go so far as to actively work to hide their bipolar depression symptoms.

Often, insight into what men are experiencing comes from what they will and will not talk about. While many men are reluctant to talk about their emotions and feelings such as sadness, crying, or generally feeling down, some will talk about feeling bored or unmotivated as well as their loss of interest in certain activities.

Depression symptoms in males often reveal themselves in actions. Extreme irritability, withdrawal from friends, family, and work, and changes in eating and sleeping habits can communicate suffering. Guys often believe that mentioning certain behavioral symptoms and choices rather than feelings is often seen as a more acceptable way to talk about bipolar depression.

Men and Coping with Bipolar Depression Symptoms

Possibly because they are sometimes reluctant to talk about depression, men find ways to cope with their symptoms. Unfortunately, bipolar disorder—both mania and depression—leads to some dangerous coping behaviors. These can include:

  • Alcohol and other substance use and abuse
  • Engagement in dangerous activities (in mania for the thrill; in depression because people don’t always care about their own safety and survival)
  • Over-involvement in work despite fatigue in order to avoid friends and family

Even though it might feel impossible, bipolar depression is treatable. Doctors and therapists will listen without judging as well as keep your information confidential (unless you are expressing suicidal ideation).  Just as with bipolar depression symptoms in women, bipolar depression symptoms in men can gradually diminish to be replaced with a return of happiness and interest in life.

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2019, June 11). Bipolar Depression Symptoms in Men Hard to Deal With, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, November 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-depression/bipolar-depression-symptoms-in-men-hard-to-deal-with

Last Updated: June 15, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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