8 signs a man is deeply unhappy in life, according to psychology

Men can be hard to read.

We’re often quiet and closed off when it comes to our emotions, and that can make it hard for the outsider to detect if something is seriously wrong or not.

It’s not just so-called “toxic masculinity” that discourages men from opening up about their emotional lives, though this can certainly play a part. Many men are simply less empathetic than women, and this can show in their empathy toward themselves.

They’re often not skilled at detecting and understanding their own emotions, and that naturally makes expression difficult.

So, should we just leave the strong, silent types to their own devices?

Not if we care about them and want to know if they’re really doing alright. But luckily, psychological research has opened many doors into the psyches of men and can help us decode their behavior.

So, if you’re concerned about a man in your life, here are eight signs a man is deeply unhappy in life, according to psychology.

1) He loses interest in sex

From an evolutionary perspective, women are supposedly choosy about their mates, looking for the best genes before they expend their valuable resources on mating.

Men, on the other hand, produce millions of sperm and are supposedly able to spread their seed at the drop of a hat – or perhaps the drop of some underpants.

But the truth is that we’re not just driven by our mating instincts but also by our feelings and other psychological considerations.

In general, men seem to have less interest in sex as they age, but only by a minimal amount. Testosterone levels, considered good predictors of sex drive, fall by only about one percent each year from the age of about 30.

What’s a lot more significant is if a man’s normal sex drive suddenly drops off quite dramatically.

This can be an indication of many different things, from a hormone disorder to an accident or illness. But it can also indicate deep unhappiness.

Numerous studies have shown direct links between depression and reduced sexual activity. It’s also worth noting that most currently available anti-depressant medications also have the effect of decreasing libido in men.

So if a man really loses interest in sex, it’s very much possible that it’s because he’s deeply unhappy.

2) He struggles to control his emotions

If you know a man who used to be quite balanced in his emotional expression but lately seems to have trouble controlling his feelings, this could be a clue that he’s not doing well.

Emotional regulation is a person’s ability to express emotions in healthy ways and at levels that are appropriate to the situation. 

For example, getting angry in traffic and then following a driver home and beating them up is not healthy. Blowing up to the point of yelling when a waiter makes a mistake on your restaurant bill is not appropriate to the situation.

These kinds of outbursts can also include excessive displays of sadness, worry, or even positive emotions like joy and excitement, show that a man is having trouble regulating his emotions.

If he’s always been this way, this is probably just who he is.

But if he has changed from being quite balanced to very easy to explode, this can be a sign that he’s really unhappy. 

According to one psychological study, out-of-control emotions can be a sign of depression. But there’s also good news – emotional regulation can be learned and practiced and can actually help to reduce depressive affect.

Strategies like reappraising situations and avoiding triggers can help to control depression and physical illnesses that are often related to it.

3) He’s always negative

Negativity may be a man’s default setting.

I know plenty of people who are always kind of grumpy, grouchy, and pessimistic.

If this is the way they are all the time, we can just assume they’re people who are low in what psychologists call agreeableness. That is, they’re a lot more critical and rational than they are friendly or compassionate.

They might be more inclined to look at the logic or details of a situation and make a judgment based on that rather than considering other people’s feelings and basing their judgments on emotion.

But once again, while this could be a man’s normal personality, we have to look for changes instead.

If a guy is normally bright and positive but has started to be much more negative all the time, it can be a sign that he’s really dealing with deep unhappiness or even depression.

Negativity is one of the clinical signs of depression, and it can be seen in having a depressed mood, feelings of low self-worth, and even pleasure reduction. In other words, nothing really makes him happy.

4) He hardly sleeps

According to research, links between sleep disturbance and depression are very strong.

Studies have found that “about three-quarters of depressed patients have insomnia symptoms, and hypersomnia is present in about 40% of young depressed adults and 10% of older patients, with a preponderance in females”.

Hypersomnia, or sleeping too much, is much more common in women, while men tend to suffer from insomnia when they are depressed.

This can include having trouble getting to sleep, waking up many times during the night, or waking up and not being able to get back to sleep. Then, once a man isn’t sleeping enough, he starts to have daytime symptoms of exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, and sleepiness during the day.

I had an old roommate who started struggling with insomnia, and even he didn’t know why. But as it progressed, he really suffered in his ability to focus and get work done. Eventually, he went for therapy and ended up realizing just how deeply unhappy he was at the time.

As in this case, many men don’t even realize they’re unhappy until they start to manifest physical symptoms that are impossible to ignore.

5) He stops taking care of himself

Do you have a man in your life who used to take great care of himself but seems to have stopped paying attention to his health and appearance?

I’m talking about the kind of person who used to hit the gym all the time, dressed to the nines, and sported a slick haircut all the time. But now, he’s not doing these same sorts of activities.

Sure, he could just be really busy all of a sudden, so he doesn’t have time to get all spiffed up in the morning or to exercise often.

Or it could be that he’s feeling deeply unhappy, depressed even, and doesn’t feel like rewarding himself with self-care.

Self-care also includes getting enough sleep, eating well, and finding healthy outlets for emotional expression. 

Studies show that there is a strong link between lack of self-care and depressive symptoms. So if you notice a man doesn’t seem to be taking care of himself the way he always has, deep unhappiness in his life could be the culprit.

6) His weight changes suddenly

Similarly, weight change can also signal unhappiness.

Many people start to eat a lot as a way to comfort themselves or even, in a way, self-medicate.

Their weight can shoot up all of a sudden if they become depressed.

However, the opposite can also be true. 

Part of the general anhedonia or lack of pleasure in life that’s experienced by many depressed people can lead them to eat a lot less. Since they’re not getting pleasure out of eating, they feel less inclined to do it, and their weight plummets.

If you see big weight changes in either direction, they could also be related to diseases or changes in health, so you’ll have to check that out to be sure. But if it’s clear they’re not health-related, they’re very likely to be signs a man is deeply unhappy.

7) He starts drinking or using drugs

It’s no surprise to most people that substance abuse can be a sign of unhappiness.

People abuse drugs and alcohol when they’re depressed to escape their feelings or to try to self-medicate. This happens in up to 40% of depressed people.

These substances often give them a little bit of temporary pleasure that they’re missing in their lives, but they also have well-known risks to both physical and mental health.

8) He seems lonely

The last sign we’ll discuss that can let you know a man is deeply unhappy is if he’s isolated or seems lonely. 

Many depressed people report feeling lonely and cut off from others.

There’s also research to suggest that depression can cause people to be lonely, though loneliness could also come back to increase depressive feelings.

No matter which one causes the other, we can be fairly sure that if a man is feeling lonely, he’s probably deeply unhappy as well. 

Last words

These eight signs a man is deeply unhappy in life, according to psychology, can help you detect unhappiness and even depression in the men you know.

Recognizing these feelings is the first step to helping them.

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