Man up revisited: New studies show men and women equally depressed

Man are four times more likely to commit suicide than women, due to depression. Photo: file

WASHINGTON, September 1. 2013 — New research findings have not only determined men do suffer from depression at the same rates as women, but also that they are four times more likely than women to commit suicide as a result.

Harvard University tested nearly 5,700 American adults to determine lasting affects of depression. 41 percent of the participants were men. Based on the data from the study, health policy researchers from the University of Michigan and Vanderbilt University concluded men suffer from depression at the same rate as women.

Globally, mental health and substance abuse issues cause more illness, death and suicide than HIV, AIDS, diabetes, tuberculosis or auto accidents. This fact makes the new findings an important consideration for updating psychological criteria.

This research suggests men commit suicide at greater rates than women because men do not seek help as readily as women and are far less likely to admit to being depressed. Many men do not even know they suffer from depression because in men, the dominant emotion for depression is often anger. Women who are depressed usually feel sadness, which is most-often associated with depression in the media and in common understanding of the illness.

Depressed men often display outward anger and the assigning of blame. Risky behavior, road rage, short temper, loneliness, loss of interest, changes in appetite reduced energy, overworking, negativity and thoughts of death or suicide, substance abuse among other symptoms, are behavioral hallmarks of male depression. The physical manifestation of male depression can be unexplained pain that does not respond to treatment.

Men are often in denial over depression and even if they suspect it, are slow to seek help because many men view depression as weakness.

SEE RELATED: Man up and stop believing depression is weakness

Men may be more comfortable discussing emotional issues with a primary care physician they have an established relationship with rather than an unknown mental health care specialist. This makes training primary care specialists to detect and evaluate male depression critical.

When men behave as depression indicates, recommendations from friends, spouses or family members are often viewed as an intrusion and rejected. If a primary care physician recommends a visit to a mental health professional, there may be more serious consideration and less likelihood of rejection.

Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based writer and psychotherapist.




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