How Men Express Emotion During Depression
He insists he’s fine and he wants you to leave him alone, yet his behavior says otherwise. He’s moody, petulant, sullen and uncommunicative. He rejects your help and you begin to wonder if this is really about you. Is he rejecting you? The more you try to help the harder he pushes back. What’s going on inside his head?
I can’t give a definitive answer to what’s going on inside his head but I’ve got a pretty good idea about some of the outlets men use to deal with emotion. Men are socialized into what it means to be a man and part of his struggle is to do with retaining his identity as a man. Other things will shape his way of coping. His intellect, his occupation, his friends and his support systems will all play a part. So with this in mind, here are just a few of the ways a depressed man may express his emotions.
Have you ever noticed that whenever you express your feelings or worries or doubts, the man in your life often finds it easier to provide solutions than to simply listen and sympathize? Men often see emotional issues as problems to be solved. The same may apply to his situation. Solving problems can be an emotional release so it’s easy for some men to turn to work or other distractions as a way of releasing tension, focusing on issues they can control and applying themselves to a task they can interpret and understand.
Some depressed men withdraw and it’s easy to misinterpret their actions as an attempt to push you away. An alternative explanation is their attempt to filter out more issues than they can currently cope with. Their mind may be in turmoil. Conflicting and unfamiliar emotions crowd in and an obvious way of trying to process what’s going on is to withdraw from those things that can be controlled in order to devote time to those that can’t. When his mind is buzzing, peace and tranquility can be very soothing.
Men tend to process their emotions differently to women. They may slam doors, hide themselves behind a book or in front of a TV screen, they may even sulk and have what appear to be tantrums. These aren’t easy behaviors to be around but they aren’t necessarily dangerous and neither are they a direct rejection of you. Dealing with unfamiliar and unsettling emotions can result in explosive or implosive reactions. In time they may settle and begin to talk about what’s troubling them.
I’ve mentioned distraction through work and problem solving but some men attach their emotions to external things. They may begin to invest large amounts of time on some personal project or hobby that takes them away from social contact. Their mood may peak and trough according to how well a sports team is performing. They may spend hours on the golf course, or cycling, or at the gym. These activities are in the context of their mood change of course. You may feel they are distancing themselves from you but it’s just possible they are seeking a means to express themselves emotionally.
It can take time for a man to deal with their emotions and this is something many women are only too familiar with. Men may remain distant, preoccupied or moody for many weeks before they eventually start to reveal what’s troubling them. It isn’t easy for some men to express feelings that reveal them as vulnerable or in need of help. Many men aren’t attuned to expressing themselves verbally, so time and patience are the watchwords in these circumstances.