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Do males and females tend to cope with depression differently?


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I know that not everyone deals with depression in the same way,just as there are varying degrees and types of depression. I suffer from depression myself .

But, in general ,do males and females cope differently?

My (ex now, I think? ) boyfriend has recently been diagnosed with mild depression. He was given a prescription, however he has yet to fill it. 

Even more recently however ,his depression has seemed to worsen. 

I have tried to help by talking to him , giving him advice , and just being there to listen , since I can relate to much of what he's going through.

I tried to contact him and he didn't get back to me. I tried again and he responded saying that he just doesn't feel like talking much as of late because he feels so down, and assured me that it's not my fault. 

I haven't heard from him in three days. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but it is when we used to talk every day. 

He's functioning; going to work etc . 

I'm just not sure if I should be reaching out to see how he's doing or just give him some time. 😕

I believe at this point having a girlfriend is more of a burden to him on top of everything else. I'm trying not to take it personally , but it's hard. Would you say this this is not unusual?

Any advice or input would be appreciated


Thank you 

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Hi VC,

There are some tendencies.  It seems he is a withdrawer.  (Better than getting angry and some other reactions.)

"I 'm just not sure if I should be reaching out to see how he's doing or just give him some time. "   That is the question.  Leaving someone alone too much or at the wrong times is bad. There is a time to interrupt their thoughts and get their attention.  And there is a time to back off.  The trick is knowing the difference of course.  And, knowing the person.  That is something you will have an advantage over us...

If you can distract in a constructive manner, that might work sometimes.  It is not addressing the issue, but that can be ok.  If you can change the current thoughts rumbling around in his brain, maybe help break him out of a loop.  It can take time to talk about things and some of us are stubborn.

What have you tried already?  Or, is this the first downward spiral you have witnessed and nothing has worked so far?


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Hi Vicious cycle.

You sound like you're doing all the right things. Just being there for somebody going through depression is one of the subtlest but most effective approaches. Not everything has to be so pro-active or practical.

Men have a tendency to self-isolate and withdraw when depressed. I've always thought depression is rougher on males, as women mature faster emotionally and psychologically and have much better support networks, but maybe I've trodden on some toes here. I only understand depression from the male perspective. In males, depression almost always amplifies anger and aggression, so watch out for that. 

In regards to mmoose, don't presume all withdrawers are not angry -- I'm a 'withdrawer' myself, but suffer with a lot of anger, I'm just good at keeping a lid on it through years of practice. Not the best method, I know.

Edited by Mark250
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I am sorry your boyfriend is dealing with depression.  He is so blessed to have girlfriend like you who cares so much.  Even though it seems like he wants his distance. Knowing you are there is comforting to him.  Continue to encourage him to get his prescription filled.  Also, encourage him to go to counseling;  and that counseling will help him improve from his struggles.  Often, men don't want to accept when they are dealing with depression.  They like to be strong and in control which is the opposite when struggling with depression.  Women in general are social and want to interact and get help.  They share what they are feeling, where more often men keep there struggles to themselves.  However, when dealing with depression that can make the depression worse.  Also, suggest these forums are a great place to reach out and that they are anonymous. He make be more likely to open up to a no face, no name stranger. Continue to be a support to him, know you care, understand what he is going through, and will be there for him.  Also, look for articles about men and depression. Having him read about others men going through depression can be helpful.  I will be praying for you.  Please keep us updated on the progress.  Hugs!

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I think individuals deal with depression differently.  Gender doesn't dictate how someone will respond to depression.   Generalizations never account for the individual. If using a gender generalization, then I take on stereotypical male behavior pattern more than the woman I am.

Edited by zenzang
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I used to withdraw in times when I should be reaching out to people the most. It's not that I wanted to push people away, I was just afraid to be real with my emotions because I was raised believing that I have to supposedly be "strong", and to my dad, that means not being open with your emotions or admitting that something is wrong. I was afraid of how others would treat me, or if they'd leave me. 

I learned to be open because that's what I'd want from someone else. My gf is also battling things of her own, and I always put my feelings aside for her. She tends to withdraw, so I can kind of relate to how you are feeling most likely. I don't know if withdrawing has to do with gender, maybe it does, but I just happened to be in a relationship where it's the other way around, and that cold feeling is so painful. 

I hope that he talks to you soon. You're amazing for the amount of support you give. 


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Hello VC and welcome to DF.

I noted in your OP you referred to him as your ex-bf, albeit with a question mark.  Focusing for a moment on you, I think that's something to which to pay attention.  idk the length of your relationship, but the way you currently characterize it is important.

On that tack, my opinion is probably at odds with some of the previous responses.

It's completely understandable that some of the concern you feel may have a lot to do with the breakup and wanting things to be the way they used to be (i.e., "we used to talk every day").  Just food for thought.  You've talked a lot about him, his meds, his job, etc., but little about yourself and your own feelings.  Since you asked for advice, it's probably more useful for you to focus on your own stuff right now.

From my own experience as a male with depression, I can infer from what you described is that he feels he needs to isolate right now.  If he says he feels he doesn't feel like talking, believe him.  Pressing him to communicate or giving him advice may in fact be unwelcome and, frankly, drive him further away.  imo, let him have his space to deal with it (or not) in his own way.  He's aware of your concern.  He goes to work.  He has a script.  But he's NOT on your schedule.  Nor, if I read it correctly, are you in a situation where you're living together.  Difficult as it may be, use the time to attend to yourself.

Edited by MarkintheDark
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Many thanks again for your replies.

He , by nature, is one who tends to withdraw, depression or not. I guess then his actions shouldn't be surprising. 

I should say also that we are in a long distance relationship and so seeing him in person, unfortunately, won't happen :(

He is almost 50, as am I , and he has never been diagnosed with depression before. I suspect he has had it in the past when he has gone though some personal situations (before I met him) but again, never diagnosed. 

Sorry if I'm generalizing, but he's the "alpha male" type. He  was never open to therapy and medication. This is all very new territory for him. I'm thankful though, that he has found himself in therapy. 


mmoose   Yes, this is the first downward spiral I have seen. As I mentioned above, we are in a long distance relationship so I'm a bit limited as to what I can do. I check on him regularly to see how he is. He had fallen silent for a while, but did respond this evening. He is praying a lot which is good , but he hasn't mentioned starting the medication. I didn't want to push the issue so I didn't bring it up. I just reminded him that  I am here for him when he needs me. I also suffer from depression and anxiety (I'm in a bit of a downward spiral myself actually) so I can relate to much of what he tells me , which I think brings him some level of comfort since no one really knows what he's going through. I also send him articles about depression, the stigma of anti-depressants etc, so that he knows he is not alone in his fight. 

mark250  Thank you for your input and for being so candid about yourself. I do tend to agree that most women area more comfortable with reaching out and talking to their friends, or a therapist etc. For most of us, it's in our nature :)

He is the "alpha male", a police officer to boot, so admitting to and showing his true feelings is not something that is accepted or expected of him.  I'm sure he'd be surprised to find out how many of his male police officer friends also suffer from depression. 

caring2018  Thank you for your prayers :) I will refer him here, or to sites similar to this. That may help him 'talk' if it's anonymous . And at the same time, see that other men also share his situation. I will try to find more articles specifically on men and depression. I think he has trouble with the labels "depression" "anti-depressants" etc. I believe it's hard for him to be put in that box so to speak.

zenzang  Thanks for your input. I don't disagree with you at all. In fact I know a friend of mine (female) who would likely take on the 'male' generalization of withdrawing. 

myblue  Sounds to me like your girlfriend is very lucky to have you :) Kudos to you for going out of your way to be there for her. I am sure it's something she will always cherish you for . And I am so happy that you learned to be more open, that's a difficult thing to do.

markinthedark  Thank you for the Welcome :)  As I just mentioned above, we are not in the same city. And our history has been on and off for 2 years, mostly because he will withdraw if he is upset etc. He's working on that but having used that as a coping mechanism for 30 odd years, it's going to take a lot of therapy and time to find methods to replace that. It's not healthy for him, nor is it for the person he's withdrawing from.

I suffer from depression myself and while I too can withdraw, I guess I've never done it with him . So I suspect that, in my head, I expect him to do the same. Unrealistic and foolish I know. To dig deeper, I am probably afraid of losing him.....

I really should be focusing more on myself right now, as  I am going through some stuff of my own. I guess I just can't stand the thought of him being alone. What I mean is, he has no one to confide in.  But he knows I am here for him . 

And you are right about pushing him away. I likely have in the past by trying too hard to have him communicate with me, when all  he really wants and needs is to be alone. 

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Just checking to see how your husband is doing this week.  Has he been able to look into any of the resources with you?  Just want to let you know I am praying for him to get the help he needs.  You are such a loving and supportive wife.  I will keep you in my prayers as well, for strength.  God Bless.

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Caring2018 thank you so much for your message. You're very sweet. 

He's actually my boyfriend ( or was) . He's long distance so it makes things a bit difficult. 

I'm currently giving him some space, but at the same time letting him know and reminding him that I am here. 

He told me last week that he was planning on starting his medication. I haven't spoken to him since , so I'm not sure if he really did start. 

Prayers are helpful, thank you. 

I hope you are okay too 😊

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Hang in there my friend and I pray that everything work out for the both

of you.  It is very important for you to concentrate on yourself as you

try to be there for your friend.  Perhaps with this time a part the both of

you can see what each one of you need to make yourself better as a

friend and as a partner.  It want be easy but it can be done and your

relationship can become stronger than before because the both of

you understand the space and needs of one another that you need

to grow as a couple.

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