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aneedleinthehayy's avatar

Do men get depressed if they are out of work for an extended period of time?

Asked by aneedleinthehayy (1198points) April 6th, 2009

I learned in my psychology class that, generally, men have a stive to work. It’s what gives them purpose and if they don’t have that, they will become depressed.
When the teacher said that, I immediately thought about my boyfried who, upon getting into a relationship with him, was jobless because of a recent motorcyle accident that left him with a broken leg, foot and elbow.
For the first few months everything was pretty fine, new relationship stuff, he was really nice and whatnot and then after about 5 months he got really distant and kind of mean and just seemed down all the time and didn’t seem to like me anymore, I thought that maybe our fire had gone out.
But now, he’s working two jobs (farm work in the morning and some custodial work at a mcdonalds) and everything is perfect. He is happy and nice and like a boyfriend, always kissing me and wanting to see me and stuff.

Men, have you ever experienced this or noticed it about yourself or your friends?
Women, have you noticed this in your male companions as well?

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27 Answers

Facade's avatar

The men I know did/do.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I think that everyone (regardless of gender) gets down when they are out of work and want it. Keeping in mind that some people just don’t like to work. Or some people work at home as SAHM (which I consider a job).

However I do see the connection between men and the need to be actively contributing. There is a great book that addresses this issue in Native American men. When I read the chapter about it I was truly enlightened. I’ve discussed it with several Native men and they too found it enlightening. It basically discusses the need for some men to be “warriors” (for lack of a better term) and that in this day and age there is no room for “warriors” anymore. This causes some men to really be restless and searching their whole lives to fit this role without really realizing what they are searching for. It is like an intuitive need to fill this role. I’ve actually seen Native men that fit this books description to a “T”. The book also discusses the women’s reaction to this predicament. Reading it gave me a new way to look at the need for men and women to fullfill such roles and how they react when they cannot do so.

Having said that, I really do think there is some basis behind what you learned in psychology class. I know my hubby would not like to be out of work. He says he would love time from working but I know him better than that. Even when he isn’t working he HAS to be doing something.

EmpressPixie's avatar

I think this is true about most people who feel like they need to work.

In American society, there is a lot of pressure for men to bring home the bacon, despite all of our great murmurs about equality. It’s simply more acceptable for a woman to stay home for whatever reason. If someone is looking for work and not finding it, after a while, it’s going to be depressing. But societal pressures make it worse for men.

I think single women face pressure that is much the same. Married women, however, face a slightly lesser pressure. But only slightly.

jrpowell's avatar

In a undergrad econ class I read a study by Johns Hopkins University that had some scary stats on the subject. For every 1% increase in the unemployment rate the rate for males seeking help for mental illness increased around 6%. I didn’t really change for females.

The scary shit is what happens with violent crime and domestic abuse committed by males during periods of high unemployment.

I can’t find a link to the study but I have a paper copy floating around in a box somewhere.

Zen's avatar


They should work, even a temp job, even something they wouldn’t normally do, until they find something else.

lukiarobecheck's avatar

Absolutely yes. It just makes me feel productive to have a job, even if it is one that I hate. I was laid off for a month about a year ago. It was a difficult time for my girlfriend and I when I was laid off. But we got through it, and it made us stronger. Once I started working again, it made me feel like a productive member of society. My sense of self worth went back up immediately.

GAMBIT's avatar

Most men need to be working on something whether it is holding down a job or simply working on projects around the house. If we no longer can do physical work I think we need to feel that we are doing something worthwhile like teaching the younger generation about our ideals and what we have learned in life.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

So do women. Traditionally men are more often the breadwinners of a family but I’ve known plenty of women who were really down about not having work.

VzzBzz's avatar

Any men I’ve known, yes. Most of the men bounced back quickly so the depression they felt was short term and they look back on it with a bit of shock, like they can’t believe they freaked out so fast over the loss. For a few others though, going back to work took longer and they were hurt, paranoid, angry and focused on destructive outlets such as gambling, drinking and drugs.

casheroo's avatar

I think that happens to both men and woman, since some need to be just occupy their time, to feel useful.
When my husband was laid off, he was pretty miserable. He played a lot of video games though…it was really annoying having him home for those two weeks lol

drClaw's avatar

For me personally, I can’t not work for longer than 2 weeks without going stir crazy, anything past 2 weeks would easily push me into a depressive state.

Mr_M's avatar

It would happen to anyone, male or female, if they did their best work AT work. By not having the job, they won’t have a chance to do what they feel is their best work and their self-esteem goes down the drain.

Think about the thing you do best. Imagine NOT being able to do that.

If I were, say, a professional musician and I thought I was very good at it, if I lost my job and couldn’t perform I wouldn’t be getting the rush I normally would get from performing. Over time, it would eat me alive.

MrGV's avatar

Real men never gets depressed.

YARNLADY's avatar

I think most do. I know I used to, when I was part of the work force, but that probably doesn’t count, because I’m not a man.

SeventhSense's avatar

Yes, it may apply to both sexes but especially so for men. Men identify with work and if they can’t work they lose a sense of identity and purpose. I think it’s almost genetic and goes back to our primitive species. A man who did not bring home food was a great disapointment to the tribe and may have even put it in jeapordy.

Pol_is_aware's avatar

Life is always going to be better when there is a sense of purpose, be it a job or a creative outlet.

Darwin's avatar

Everyone, I think, gets a bit depressed when their job is taken away, whether it is a paid position or something like when the kids leave home so you are left with an empty nest.

buster's avatar

Hell yeah I get depressed when I don’t work especially when I don’t have beer money.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Darwin “Empty nest” very good point. My Father-in-law was such a burden to the rest of the family when he was forced to retire from his job. It wasn’t money, he made a fortune in real estate. It was pride. Then he discovered the internet, and is now known as GranpaOnline. He puts out newsletters like he did most of his life, by hand. He loves it, and it has been a life saver.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

It wears on guys, it seems to me that there is a deep seated need to be able to provide. whether it’s rational or not, I think a lot of men feel it’s their responsibility to be able to “put food on the table” so to speak. So when they can’t accomplish that, it can damage their masculinity, which is a cheif source of depression in males. Granted their are always exceptions.

ignorantsavage's avatar

well usuall there are two different situations ive been unemployed two times the first time i loved it for a couple of weeks then got depressed then the second time i started catching up on some reading and learning japaneseso i guess its just a idle mind that depresses

Linda_Owl's avatar

Yes they do, but so do women.

Horus515's avatar

I can say definitively from a male point of view that I definitely get angry when I’m not working. I wouldn’t say depressed, but then again, that may be how I deal with depression. I know I was angry everyday though. And I know, now that I’ve been working steady for years, that I have a definite sense of “earning my keep”, as it were, that keeps me on an even keel.

Linda_Owl's avatar

For men, it is frequently anger that they feel if they are not able to work. I know it was anger that my late husband felt when he became disabled, & then he got so bitter that we ended up separating because he became impossible to live with.

SeventhSense's avatar

Anger is a layer which covers sadness. Grief can feel like a useless emotion for men. We’re so used to doing something.

evsma77's avatar

Case in Point:

My husband was laid off in feb 09..after about 2 weeks of unemployement, I went into my job frustrated..a male coworker asked what was wrong, I explained how husband was out of work, and how moody and jerky he’s been being…and his response to that was a real eye opener. What he said was that if he was out of work and didnt know how he was going to feed his family he’d have a rope ready to hang himself..that its as natural for a man to feel the need to provide for his family as it is for a woman to mother/protect their children. Put a lot in perspective for me and raised my paitence level with the moody man about 100 notches. His job called him back to work the following week.

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