Here’s a multiple choice question for you –
Your husband might be depressed if he does which of the following:
- a) takes a sudden interest in skydiving
- b) has lost interest in hobbies that were once enjoyable to him
- c) is a workaholic
- d) rages frequently at you or the kids
- e) all of the above
The answer is e) all of the above, according to a new study conducted by the University of Michigan and Vanderbilt University we reported on earlier.
But it turns out that men have other symptomatology that has been overlooked; while women are more likely to turn anger inward (the Freudian definition of depression), men are more likely to rage at others such as family members, coworkers or the paperboy. In other words men and women answer the “what does depression look like” question in two radically different ways.
The implications of the study are tremendous, especially if depressed men also happen to be fathers. Parenting can turn pretty ugly pretty fast, especially if Dad spews his rage in his children’s direction.
In an excellent article on “daddy depression,” writer Christie Haskell cites a study that reveals depressed men are more likely to spank their children than dads who are not depressed — the Michigan/Vandy study certainly backs this up.
Even if a man doesn’t exhibit rage or angry outbursts, untreated depression can negatively effect the bond he has with his children. Norbert Brown writes that his struggle with depression left him confused, apathetic and unproductive. He describes that even making a to-do list could leave him feeling undone. A simple question from his son was the beginning of his recovery, a question that made him start to understand the divide his depression had created between him and his family: “Dad, don’t you know how to have fun anymore?”
The bottom line of the study: depression in men has been under diagnosed; a greater awareness of ALL of the symptoms of male depression can alleviate needless suffering for depressed men and their families.