1 in 5 Australians are affected by multiple chronic diseases1. This month, we’re taking an in depth look at the prevalence of chronic disease in Australia and how Aussies are affected. See more here.
Depression is one of the most common chronic health conditions in Australia, affecting 14.1% of Aussies2, according to our latest Medibank Better Health Index. As many as 1 in 8 Aussie men are affected by depression, slightly lower than the incidence amongst women, where 1 in 5 are affected. However, while more prevalent among women overall, the incidence of depression is increasing at a faster rate amongst men — particularly in the 35-49 age group3.
While this discrepancy in the incidence of depression amongst men compared with women may be the positive result of increased initiatives which target men’s mental health, it may also be due to an under-reporting by men as we know men don’t always seek timely diagnosis and treatment.
Many men feel there’s still a stigma attached to depression in males, making it difficult for some to speak up and seek help. Additionally, men are also likely to abuse alcohol and other substances in an attempt to cope with or mask the symptoms of depression. The implication of this however, is quite the opposite, as symptoms only become worse.
Common symptoms to watch out for
Like many other mental health conditions, there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to depression. In fact, depression presents itself in a variety of forms, with each affecting individuals in unique ways. The most prevalent depressive disorders affecting Aussie men include major depression, melancholia, psychotic depression, postnatal depression, and bipolar disorder.
Men affected by depression will often display slightly different symptoms to women. Here’s what you should look out for:
Signs of depression in men and women:
- Feeling sad or hopeless
- Always tired
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Lost ability to enjoy everyday activities
Signs more common in men:
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Anger and/or irritability
- Acting recklessly, taking risks
If you think you may have depression
Experiencing depression is nothing to be ashamed of. If you think you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of depression, it’s important to seek help and support. Speak to a GP who will help identify and access the support you or your loved one need.
1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
2 According to Medibank Better Health Index data, January 2015 - December 2015
3 According to Medibank Better Health Index data, Apr 2010 - Apr 2015