SUICIDE remains the single biggest killer of UK blokes under the age of 45 – three times higher than female suicides each year.
That’s why this Men’s Health Awareness week it’s more important than ever to know the signs of depression in your loved ones.
Getty Images Suicide is the biggest killer of UK blokes under 45
Especially when that number means roughly 12 men – all brothers, fathers, sons and uncles – needlessly end their lives every single day.
That’s a staggering 84 male suicides each week.
A suicide statistics report, released last year, by the Samaritans showed there were 6,639 suicides in the UK and the Republic of Ireland (ROI) in 2015.
Of that figure 4,997 were men, meaning 75 per cent of all suicides in 2015 in the UK and the ROI were committed by men.
Getty – Contributor Roughly 12 men – all brothers, fathers, sons and uncles – needlessly end their lives every single day
Men between the age of 40 and 44 are the most at risk, with this age group recording the highest number of deaths in 2015.
Depression is not just a feeling of unhappiness or being a bit fed up for a few days – many describe it as a dark cloud hanging over their head causing an immense feeling of sadness that can last months, or even years.
Here’s the key signs to look out for in your man…
1. Self-medicating with drink or drugs
Getty Images Drowning their sorrows? Many men turn to alcohol to cope with stress
Both genders can turn to the bottle – or worse – when stress reaches fever pitch, but men are far more likely to use drugs and alcohol when dealing with their feelings.
Naturally, there’s a difference between consuming for fun and those who seek oblivion, so look out for the grey area in between.
Often, somebody who’s depressed won’t consciously know he’s doing it, so you’ll probably spot the signs first.
As a barometer, remember, the NHS recommends we drink no more than 14 units of booze per week – that’s either six pints of beer, ten small glasses of wine or 14 spirit shorts.
It’s normal for him to drink a bit too much every now and then, we’re all capable of that at a party.
The key is to know what’s normal for him.
For more information visit: Drink Aware or Frank.
2. Too much, or too little, sleep
Getty Images More than a bad dream: Men who sleep too much – or too little – may be depressed
We all enjoy a lie-in sometimes, especially given how demanding life is from the moment we wake up.
But a nagging, seemingly endless fatigue can be a red flag for something a little more sinister – especially in men who are young enough to have decent energy levels.
A low drive, finding it hard to do anything and a frequent need to sleep can indicate depression just as much as its insomnia can, according to The Calm Zone.
Around six hours of shut-eye should be the minimum for any adult, but experts also say that we should cap it at nine hours per night.
Not least because it has other consequences, medics claim, a recent study found that too much kip can almost halve a blokes fertility.
Doctors say going beyond the nine-hour rule can reduce fertility by more than 40 per cent because it alters a man’s testosterone levels, which is released into the body during slumber.
Getty Images Irritable? A man being angry often relates to something much deeper beyond the surface
It’s easy to demonise a man’s anger – even if its directed at nobody other than himself.
However, as a natural reaction to life’s challenges, it often relates to something much deeper beyond the surface – something we can’t see, but he certainly feels.
This means a man who’s suffering is not simply an irrational person, but that he needs help.
At the same time, women show their depression symptoms differently to men.
While women may cry when they feel depressed, men may become irritable and belligerent when upset or down thanks to their testosterone levels.
This is normal, but it’s still a symptom of a bigger issue, so keep an eye on him.
Even if it doesn’t manifest in anything other than him getting a tight chest, tense muscles and weak legs – it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
4. Lack of interest in sex
Getty Images An unexpected loss of libido – especially when it lasts for a long time or keeps returning – can also indicate depression
It doesn’t need saying that most men love sex.
But, when stress or depression strikes, sex drive can be one of the first things to go missing in action.
A loss of libido is a common problem affecting up to one in five men at some point in their life, according to the NHS.
It’s often linked to professional and personal stress, or important life-changing events.
However, an unexpected loss of libido – especially when it lasts for a long time or keeps returning – can also indicate an underlying personal, medical or lifestyle problem.
If this happens on occasion, it’s no big deal, but anything else should be monitored so talk to your man about how he is feeling.
5. Comfort eating or loss of appetite
Getty Images Eating their hearts out? A loss – or dramatic increase – in appetite can also signal upset
We all like to turn to comfort food every now and then for its endorphin-releasing properties.
Typically, eating disorders are perceived to be conditions that affect only women – but this is far from the case.
On the contrary, charity MGEDT (Men Get Eating Disorders Too) report that between 10 and 25 per cent of those experiencing eating disorders are men.
The majority of whom struggle to get access to appropriate support and treatment, so much goes on under the radar.
It can be easy to assume assume that a man eating too much – or too little – is nothing to be concerned about.
But, in reality, it’s a red flag and is sometimes a sign of self-sabotage.
Needless to say, these problems can affect any man at any age.
Something Matt O’Connor, founder of Fathers4Justice, knows all too well.
Fathers4Justice Fathers4Justice founder Matt O’Connor today launches a new campaign Save Our Sausages, aimed at raising awareness of men’s health issues
He suffered depression when his family life fell apart and he was alienated from his sons.
Despite being at a high risk of suicide, there was little support in place for him. An experience that’s still all too familiar for millions of men.
Speaking to The Sun, he said: “Ian Duncan-Smith once told me that men’s issues had become a ‘political taboo’ amongst politicians desperate to appeal to who they believe are the largest constituency of floating voters – single mothers.
“By way of distraction, consecutive governments have demonised dads as ‘deadbeats’ and reduced them to the status of cashpoints and sperm banks, whilst denying them equal parenting rights.
“Tens of thousands of men have been washed up and disenfranchised which is part of the reason why they are choosing death, rather than life.”