Thursday, March 01, 2007

TO READ: Men and Depression
Conventional psychiatric wisdom has it that depression is twice as common in women as in men. But that rule of thumb may not be correct.

Newsweek's cover story last week (Feb. 26, 2007 issue) was on men and depression, and it reports that more and more medical providers are discovering that men just don't admit or even face up to their depressive symptoms at the rate women do. Six million men will be diagnosed with depression this year, and more and more men are seeking treatment as stigma gradually lessens. Still, many men feel they must maintain a certain image -- for themselves as well as for others -- of being "in control." As a result, the article claims, men's moods may manifest as irritability, anger, alcoholism and other substance abuse, even violence.

In addition to the untold suffering of these men and their families due to such effects, depression leads men to commit suicide at rates at least four times greater than women. At a societal level, depression's effects are enormous as well: studies estimate that adult depression leads to $83 billion (with a "b") worth of lost productivity.

I certainly know many men who have had the "manliness" to step up, realize they have a problem, and seek treatment for their depression. They, like women in our society, still face tremendous stigma. But they do it. "Coming out" with depression is often the wisest, and healthiest, thing they can do -- for themselves, their families and their careers.


Anonymous said...

This is an interesting perspective and could be a fruitful avenue of research for someone - how does perceived stigma differ between genders? I think that stigma will decrease with more and more mention of it in places like Newsweek and your blog. Thanks.

Gwenny said...

What do you think about the study that shows that the Depression Burden is Greater for Blacks?

Elizabeth Maynard Schaefer, Ph.D. said...

I wasn't aware of that study before -- thanks for pointing it out, Gwenny. I've read the article now, though I haven't tracked down the original study itself.

It is very sad, though perhaps not unexpected in our society, that African-Americans and other minorities might not, on average, receive optimal health care, including psychiatric care. Hopefully we can remedy this, and in the process, both the frequency and severity of depression in this group will decline. I hate to imagine where I, and many friends, would be without proper treatment. We must address this issue for everyone.
-- Beth