Men are less likely to admit to depression, so it’s harder to be diagnosing depression with men. As for women, they experience depression about twice as often as men and usually are not afraid to admit.
Although men are less likely to suffer from depression than women, 6 million men in the United States are affected by the illness. The rate of suicide in men is four times that of women, though more women attempt it.
Depression affects the physical health in men differently from women. A new study has shown that, although depression is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease in both men and women, only men suffer a high death rate.
Depression in men is often masked by alcohol or drugs, or by the socially acceptable habit of working excessively long hours. Depression symptoms typically shows up in men not as feeling hopeless and helpless, but as being irritable, angry, and discouraged.
Even if a man realizes that he is depressed, he may be less willing to seek help than a woman would. That’s why an encouragement and support from concerned family members can help. In the workplace, employee assistance professionals or worksite mental health programs can also help men understand and accept depression treatment as a way to get a professional help.
Many hormonal factors may contribute to the increased rate of women depression, such as menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy, miscarriage, postpartum period, pre-menopause, and menopause. Many women also face additional stresses, such as responsibilities both at work and home, single parenthood, and caring for children and for aging parents.
A recent NIMH study showed that in the case of severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS), women with a preexisting vulnerability to PMS experienced relief from mood and physical symptoms when their sex hormones were suppressed. Shortly after the hormones were re-introduced, they again developed symptoms of PMS. Women without a history of PMS reported no effects of the hormonal manipulation.
Many women are also particularly vulnerable to develop a depression disorder after the birth of a baby. The hormonal and physical changes, as well as the added responsibility of the baby, can be serious factors that lead to postpartum women depression. While transient “blues” are common in new mothers, a full-blown depressive episode is not a normal occurrence for the new mothers.
Depression treatment by a sympathetic physician and the family’s emotional support for the new mother are the most important considerations, allowing the new mother to recover her physical and mental well-being and strengthen her ability to care for the baby.