For a long time, the general consensus has been that depression is largely a female thing. Depression can hit men too, though it can manifest differently in men than in women. A depressed man might seem angry, for instance, rather than sunk in a chair crying, or pouring woes out to a friend as the female stereotype dictates.
Here are some ways in which men and women differ in their experience of depression:
1) Biology makes a difference.
Biological differences between men and women leave women more susceptible to depression and other mood disorders. Women are almost twice as prone to depression as men are according to Jill Goldstein, director of research at the Connors Center for Women's Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
Conversely, men are over three times more likely to be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder than women, according to WHO.
2) In general, women are more in touch with their feelings.
Women are more in tune with their emotions, and tend to be more articulate about them. Women are more likely to talk with their friends and show their vulnerability than men. Women are also quicker to go to their primary health care physician, whereas men are more likely to see a specialist.
3) Women are more likely to brood.
Women spend more time replaying their negative thoughts and emotions. Men are more likely to hide their feelings, from themselves and others. Depression can deepen without help from others, so a man's depression when undiagnosed, can become harder to manage.
4) Men and women use — or abuse — drugs and alcohol differently.
Men may drink too much or self-medicate with illegal drugs, before depression sets in. Women are more likely to self-medicate after depression emerges. Men are more forthcoming with their health care provider about their alcohol consumption than women are, according to WHO.
5) Men are more likely to try to distract themselves from the pain of depression.
Men have more of a tendency to throw themselves into work or sports, or watching more TV. They are more inclined to be reckless by driving too fast, gambling, smoking or taking chances sexually.
6) Men who are depressed are more likely to seem mad than sad.
Men may seem angry or irritable when depressed, rather than sorrowful or anxious, which is seen more in women. This is one factor that makes a depression diagnosis for a man harder to arrive at.
7) Stressful life experiences trigger more depression in women than in men.
Women are more likely to experience depression because of stressors like bad relationships or job problems, or family death or illness. They will dwell in their stressful feelings longer than men do. Goldstein speculates that this may have to do with women's reproductive hormones, neurotransmitters that regulate mood, and stress hormones.
8) Men are more likely to commit suicide.
This may be partly because a man's depression can go undiagnosed for longer, and may be related to the fact that a man's depression is more likely to involve anger. Also a man who tries to kill himself is more likely to succeed than a woman might be.
9) Antidepressants are metabolized differently by men and women.
Men and women may metabolize and process antidepressants differently. Most of the research on this has been done on men, far less has been done on women according to Goldstein.
10) Women's depression may be accompanied by another disorder as well.
are more likely to suffer from a combination of depression and a second disorder like anorexia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder or panic disorder.
7 Ways Depression Differs in Men and Women. Livescience.com. Retrieved Oct. 28, 2015.
Gender disparities and mental health: The Facts. Who.int. Retrieved Oct. 28, 2015.
Depression in women: Understanding the gender gap. Mayoclinc.com. Retrieved Oct. 28, 2015.
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Reviewed October 29, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN