It sounds as though you may have several symptoms of depression. These include loss of motivation, energy, drive and interest in things and activities that usually energize you. The feeling you describe of life being gray and no longer “in color” is another image I hear fairly often from people I treat for depression.  It is difficult to say whether or not you are depressed, but it is probably worth checking out.

There are both similarities and differences in the ways that men and women experience depression.  Many of the symptoms are common to people regardless of their gender.  Sadness, loss of interest in one’s activities, irritability, sleep problems and decreased energy are all typical of depression in both women and men. However, research has revealed some ways in which depression is experienced differently by men than by women.  Some of this has to do with biology and biochemistry and some of it is related to the social and cultural conditioning of men and women in our society.

Research has consistently found that more women than men are diagnosed with depression. This may be due to the complex interaction of hormones and neurotransmitters in women’s biology, but it could also be the result of women showing depression in different and more obvious ways than depression appears in men.  Women also tend to be more willing to admit that they are hurting and more likely to seek outside assistance than men.

Most men have been taught that to be respected and admired, they have to be strong and never show weakness. Because of this men are more likely to run away from those feelings by getting very involved in distracting activities to cope with their difficult feelings. Depression in men is often masked by extreme busyness or excessive use of alcohol or drugs to cope with feeling overwhelmed and out of control.  Ironically, these strategies ultimately lead men to feel even more overwhelmed and out of control.  Additonally, depression in men tends to manifest more in irritability and anger outbursts rather than crying or eating difficulties.

Unfortunately, men only tend to admit that they are depressed and might need help after the depression has become very severe.  While more women are diagnosed with depression, more men die from suicide, often because they wait too long to admit their difficulties and seek help.

Since depression looks different in men and women and because two of the people closest to you are suggesting that you might be depressed, I would suggest looking into it now rather than waiting.  Reach out to someone knowledgeable about depression for an objective opinion.  Many companies have an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) that offers several sessions of counseling for free to employees and this counseling is confidential. What you say will not be shared with your employer.

The internet is also a good source for some information and basic self-screening instruments for identifying depression, but self-help tools are not really adequate to obtain a clear and realistic diagnosis.  One or two visits with a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist will probably tell you what you need to know about whether or not you are suffering from depression.  If you are, you do not have to suffer. Help is readily available and getting treatment for depression is nothing to be ashamed of.  Check it out and see whether there is something that might be done to help you once again experience your life in living color.