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Firstly, have a think about these questions:

  1. If you were told you had diabetes would you seek help for it? 
  2. If you were told you had epilepsy would you seek help for it? 

If you answered 'yes' to the above questions, hopefully the following information will allow you to recognize the signs of depression and understand that it, too, is an illness which needs to be treated.
Depression is more severe than normal sadness. It is a medical condition involving a persistent low mood which lasts longer than two weeks, and interferes with other parts of your life, such as work, school or relationships.

According to the better health website, 1 in 6 men will suffer depression at some time in their lives. (www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au)

What causes depression or a depressed mood?

Sometimes depression or a depressed mood may have no apparent cause and sometimes it may be caused by a number of factors (by themselves or in combination), such as:

  • genetics, or a history of depression within your family 
  • biochemical factors. Depression is related to low levels of serotonin, an important chemical involved in transmitting signals between nerve cells in the brain. 
  • a stressful event or chain of events such as a family break-up, ongoing bullying or abuse, trauma, a death, or a relationship break up 
  • personality style. Certain personality types are more at risk of depression than others. This includes people who tend to be anxious, have low self-esteem, are perfectionists or are shy. 
  • other mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. 

Symptoms of depression or a depressed mood

People experience depression or a depressed mood in different ways, depending on the type of depression and individual differences. Common symptoms include:


  • feeling sad, moody or irritable 
  • feeling hopeless or helpless 
  • feeling numb or empty 
  • feeling guilty and blaming yourself 
  • unable to feel good or enjoy things that you do normally. 


  • being overly self-critical 
  • believing you can't cope and that things are out of your control 
  • difficulty making decisions and thinking clearly 
  • poor concentration and memory 
  • thoughts of suicide or self-harm. 


  • lack of motivation and energy 
  • crying a lot 
  • losing interest in activities you usually enjoy 
  • withdrawing from your friends and family or being more dependent on them 
  • increased use of alcohol or other drugs 
  • losing your temper more than usual. 


  • loss of appetite or over-eating 
  • changes in sleep patterns - difficulty getting to sleep, waking up in the middle of the night or sleeping for longer 
  • headaches or stomach aches 
  • feeling physically sick 
  • lack of interest in sex. 

Everyone experiences some of these feelings or behaviours from time to time. However, for people experiencing depression the feelings are severe and they do not go away over time. 

Men and Depression

There are several myths about depression that can make men reluctant to talk about or seek help for their depression. These myths include the idea that:

  • depression is a sign of personal weakness 
  • 'real men' are in control of their emotions and don't let things get to them 
  • feeling sad or down is not manly 
  • anyone with enough willpower ought to be able to 'snap out of it' 
  • men should not ask for help; they should be able to cope on their own. 

Because of these ideas, men often focus on the physical rather than the emotional symptoms of depression, and often talk about feeling angry or irritable rather than sad. They also tend not to seek help until the depression is very severe, if at all. This can place these men at an increased risk of suicide, as the greatest risk factor for suicide is depression.
Fortunately, more and more prominent men, including high profile sportsmen and politicians, are now beginning to 'go public' about their depression. This is helping to reduce the stigma associated with this illness and allowing other men to talk about and seek help for their depression.

Depression and relationships

Depression can have a very negative impact on one's relationships. Depressed people frequently experience an extreme lack of energy and motivation which can severely hinder their ability to function in a relationship. They may withdraw from others, become irritable and 'closed', or fall into a state of apathy in which they are unable to act decisively or even get out of bed in the morning. Their withdrawal from others can be confusing and hurtful to those close to them, especially if the depression is not diagnosed or understood. Some people may respond unhelpfully by telling the depressed person to "pull themselves together", not realizing that their comments only make the sufferer feel worse. Many depression sufferers also lose interest in sex, creating further problems in intimate relationships.
Understanding that a depressed person's behaviour is the result of an illness may not make things easy, but knowing what is going on, and that the condition is treatable, can give a sense of hope.


Depression can be treated. The most effective treatment is a combination of anti-depressant medication and psychotherapy aimed at changing negative thinking. 
If you are concerned that you may be experiencing depression, see your local doctor or a psychologist. They should be able to make a diagnosis and discuss treatment options with you.

MensLine Australia offers professional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week for men with family and relationship issues, including men concerned about the effect that depression may be having on their relationships. The service is non-judgemental, confidential and anonymous.

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Please do not post questions or requests for help here as we are unable to respond. Please email talkitover@mensline.org.au instead, or post website feedback on our feedback page

User comments

MensLine Admin
22-Dec-14 12:02 PM
... (cont) It does help to talk with a professional counsellor about the situation you describe, and we would encourage you to give us a call at MensLine on 1300 789978 and we will provide you with details of local services and resources in your area.
MensLine Admin
22-Dec-14 12:01 PM
...(cont) The negative conversations in your head can be inhibiting and also self fulfilling – the messages you give yourself about your circumstances and surroundings and making meaningful connections with other people after becoming single can sometimes themselves get in the way. Things do change.
MensLine Admin
22-Dec-14 12:00 PM
Thanks for your post Gavin. You are doing all the right things looking after yourself and we understand your frustration at things not coming together when you are putting in such effort to take care of yourself... (cont. in next post)
21-Dec-14 01:49 AM
A year off lexapro, eating right and exercising several times a week for 8 months, 3 months sober yet I still have zero sex drive and have had no interest in dating someone or even hooking up with a woman since I became single in March 2013. Depression has made me hibernate rather than be sociable but I'm always stuck in a crowded room filled with negative conversations - my head. Does it ever stop?
MensLine Admin
08-Dec-14 10:35 AM
Dear Anthony, we have received your comments but they are inappropriate for posting. We suggest you take these issues up with your local state or federal politician. With regards, MensLine.
03-Dec-14 05:25 PM
...We recommend you talk to your hospital care providers about how you’re feeling and the changes you’ve noticed. It’s best to do this now rather than waiting for things to get anymore difficult. If you can’t get in to see your providers straight away, call us anytime at MensLine on 1300 79 99 78 or the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.
03-Dec-14 05:24 PM
Michael, we’re very sorry to hear how you are feeling. After any course of treatment, it is common to need some adjustments and your health team will be able to assist you in looking at some other options.
02-Dec-14 12:04 AM
I have had treatment in hospital since May this year,this has included 24 ect sessions even now 2weeks after discharge with 2 types of medication I feel I am beginning to slide,nothing seems worthwhile running out of options. Feel worse from the treatment I can't remember so much.
MensLine Admin
20-Nov-14 03:45 PM
Dear Peter, we want to make sure that you hang onto that hope and get the right support if aren’t receiving this already. Please feel free to ring one of our services any time. The number for the Suicide Call Back Service is 1300 659 467 . We are here to help you.
20-Nov-14 10:10 AM
Im 26. and have just a glimmer of hope left. hell is.not a place you go to...it follows you everywhere in your mind
Brian Rogers
14-Nov-14 05:36 AM
Darkness is better tan light!
29-Oct-14 11:06 PM
just need a break!!!
MensLine Aus
16-Oct-14 09:12 AM
Counsellors at MensLine Australia are always here to talk. Call us on 1300 78 99 78. We're here 24/7. Online chat and video counselling may also be helpful. Register here: https://www.mensline.org.au/user/register
06-Oct-14 06:22 PM
Sounds like me , was on pills but didnt seem to work. I hate feeling this way ........
02-Oct-14 07:57 PM
so lost...still dont know what to do and with whom i can talk. :(
31-Aug-14 11:23 AM
I fall into the first paragraph, epilepsy is seen as a fake illness in Australia, I have never received any assistance. I have only been insulted since by workplaces, and mostly, Australian government. I'm evidence that epilepsy should be kept secret, just like it was 60 years ago, or you will be treated like a nuisance.
19-Aug-14 12:36 PM
I'm reading these messages and am genuinely concern for all of you who posted on this website. Hang in there guys, call 1300 78 99 78 and talk to someone. You are not alone and you will get through this.
20-Jul-14 10:58 PM
I believe I have all those comment relate to me. But still can't bring myself to call or see someone. ; (
Drew F
30-Dec-13 03:42 PM
I'm everything it's says up there ! Do I need help ? Been tryna overcome all this ! Just my fear .... I don't know Im lost
05-Jun-13 08:53 AM
if I go on medication I will have to register it at work I don't trust my employer it will go against me gaining further employment
17-Mar-13 10:05 PM
the mood and thinking and physical are all me, as the behaviour the top 4 are me. so i will see my doctor about it.
18-Nov-11 09:30 AM
I was doing since 30/11 on the death of my wife, but since yesterday I just seem to be falling to pieces and cant stop crying
17-Oct-11 02:28 PM
Hi Socrates,
Your situation sounds very difficult. We cannot provide advice via this page (which is why we have edited your comment to remove your personal situation from public view), but we suggest you call the help line on 1300 78 99 78 for further advice. You can also get responses from other men who may be in a similar situation via the online support forum (see the link on the left menu).
17-Oct-11 02:20 PM
I am uncertain if I have come to the right place to try to resolve some issues I have?
[comment edited]
I cannot continue to survive this way... and I was wondering if you feel there is anything you can suggest to assist me?

Thank you.