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‘Man up’ to depression

When men go for a checkup, many only think to report physical problems like a sore back or aching joints. They don’t mention that something else might be bothering them—like a lingering feeling of sadness or worry. And that’s why many men’s depression goes undiagnosed.

One sign of depression is having anxious and empty feelings that get in the way of daily life. Other symptoms may include sleep problems, fatigue, irritability and disinterest in once-enjoyable activities, and men are more likely than women to report having these symptoms.

It’s also more common for men to abuse drugs or alcohol when depressed. Others might bury themselves in their work to avoid talking with loved ones about their feelings. And while many mistakenly believe that young people are most likely to take their own lives, this isn’t true. In fact, men ages 85 and older have the highest suicide rate, with depression often being the cause.

Why so sad?

Depression is likely the result of a combination of genetic, biochemical, environmental and psychological factors. And while depression isn’t a normal part of aging, life changes, like retirement, might trigger the condition. The death of a family member or friend can also cause depression.

Turn it around

Fortunately, depression is usually treatable, even in the most serious cases. Most older adults see improvement when they’re treated with antidepressants, psychotherapy or a combination of the two. Studies show that medication and therapy together are best at preventing recurring depression.

If you’re unsure where to go for help, speak with your healthcare provider. He or she may suggest a psychiatrist, mental health counselor or peer support group.