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Shame, Grandiosity and Male Depression

Figures reported show that the prevalence of depression in women is twice as much as that in men. This is a major reason why male depression is often much less talked about. Do men not face depression at all? They do; they just hide it.

Depression in men is covert. While women would weep and openly express helplessness, men are conditioned differently. In most societies around the world, men are raised to meet the parameters of typical male dominance – insecurities, showing weakness, and expressing the need to be rescued is for the women.

“Boys don’t cry”, “don’t be such a girl”, “you’re a boy, you don’t need help for that”. Men, from the beginning, are conditioned with such injunctions that prohibit them to express their vulnerability, feelings, and helplessness. So, instead of reaching out for help, they tend to “man-up” about it and do what the man-code allows them to do – vent out anger and frustration.

What they grow up with tends to develop into a serious disorder by the time they are adults. Male depression, although hidden, is far more rampant than what we perceive it to be. When the extent of emotional turmoil in them finally unfolds upon them, most men develop a sense of shame – it is for them something unspeakable.

To overcome this shame, men usually resort to acts of self-medication that usually involve excessive drinking or substance abuse. Others choose radical isolation where they distance themselves from the ones closest to them (mostly partners and spouses). However, not all men have the tolerance to live with this shame.

These men then quickly gravitate to the other end of the scale – covering their sense of shame with grandiosity. The sense of superiority sometimes pushes them into denial. They’d rather be the bad boy indulged in womanizing, compulsive gambling, or daring acts, than be seen as a sad boy. At a more precarious phase, this bravado may turn into greater evils like domestic violence, homicide, or even suicide.

Truth is, men externalize their distress. They blame others for things that are wrong in them – and almost all of it stems from the way they are brought up – the societal code that tells them to suck it in and be a “man” about it.

Prolonged depression can have a debilitating impact on your personal and professional lives. Reaching out for help can change that. At Silicon Valley Marriage Counseling, we explore and discuss the causes and symptoms that lead to anxiety and depression in you, which helps us assist you through the process of overcoming these disorders.

Male Depression in Marital Relationship

Depression may not as often be diagnosed in men as in women, but that does not mean they don’t go through it. Depression in men is almost as common as it is in women. The only difference is that women readily accept their condition and reach out for help – men don’t – and majority of the times men don’t even realize they’re depressed.

However, they do show signs and these “signs” dramatically impact their relationships – especially that between spouses. Since men tend to externalize their distress, it is common for them to blame their partners for all the troubles in their lives, which eventually leads to a rift in the marital relationship.

Men have a habit of hiding their suffering behind the masks of anger and grandiosity. It is not overnight that a perfectly healthy relationship becomes sour. Depression in men builds up over time, until it develops into a monster that gradually begins gnawing on the very foundations of a marital relationship.

“He has become so distant”, “He disregards my sexual advances”, “He has become too picky and irritable” – these are the most common complaints women have about their men when confiding to a therapist – and they don’t happen just like that.

Since most men wouldn’t admit to or know the fact that they might be going through depression, it is important to pay attention to the overt and covert red flags they display from time to time. These symptoms may include:

The Overt Symptoms

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Prolonged sadness
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Avoiding intimacy

The Covert Symptoms

  • Social withdrawal and isolation (even from family)
  • Irritable and/or violent behavior
  • Increased alcoholism and promiscuity
  • High emotional sensitivity
  • Loss of motivation
  • Pessimism

Depression is a widespread disorder that is treatable. You only need to reach out for help. However, it is important not to confuse short lived fluctuations in the mood with depression. If you or your partner has been continuously displaying any of the above mentioned symptoms, it is wise to consult a therapist as early as possible.

We, at Silicon Valley Marriage Counseling believe overcoming depression can make a world of difference to your married life. Whether through male depression treatment, couples’ therapy or family therapy, we help you identify the impact of your anxiety and depression on your life, your career, your social relationships, and marriage. Our goal is to help you to find the happiness and the lasting love and intimacy you deserve.

Depression and the Absence of Intimacy

Depression is not confined to the mind alone. It affects every single aspect of your lives. Prolonged depression takes its toll on your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. This sometimes leads to problems in personal relationships and the one that takes the worse hit is your relationship with your partner/spouse.

Depression can cause a perfectly healthy relationship between partners to go sour. This only adds further trouble in the lives of people going through a rough patch (depression in this case), because let’s face it – a strong relationship between partners/spouses is therapeutic. It is a source of love, comfort, support, and closeness.

When a person is depressed, they tend to become withdrawn. They feel lethargic and are often unable to find the energy or motivation to do even the most normal things in life – this includes sex too!

Loss of appetite, sleeplessness, loss of intimacy, mood swings, and inattentiveness are common in people with depression. Most of the times these acts make the other partner feel unloved and/or unwanted – this is where the problem begins – this is where relationships begin crumbling.

Depression and Intimacy

Depression tends to upset the routine systems and functions of your body, either slowing them down or displacing them. This impact is most vivid in the case of sleep. You might have noticed how a person with depression has trouble with sleep – either they sleep too less or too much – in each case, sleep is invariably disrupted.

Similar is the case with intimacy and sex. Having sex requires good co-ordination, spontaneity, and most importantly – it requires energy – lots and lots of energy. Unfortunately, people suffering from depression aren’t really up for things that require “too much effort”, which is why intimacy between couples is the first thing hit by adversity.

Depressed men experience a loss of libido and may even face problems with getting an erection. Women on the other hand, lose their interest in sex and have trouble reaching an orgasm.

The good thing is that these problems disappear when one starts improving their condition. As depression wears off, people may find their interest in sex renewed, which happens to be one of the first signs of recovery.

Through couples’ therapy, we at Silicon Valley Marriage Counseling can help you overcome depression and bring back intimacy to your relationship. After all, everyone deserves to be happy in life.