Depression: No Longer a “Woman’s Disease”

men suffer from depression Everyone knows that women suffer from depression more than men. Statistics have shown that women are 70% more likely to have major depression than men.

But “everyone” isn’t correct.

“Everything we think we know about depression is a reflection of how we defined it to begin with,” Dr. Andrew Leuchter, a psychiatrist who studies depression at UCLA said. He says the symptoms commonly defined for depression may have contributed to the idea that depression is predominantly a “woman’s disease” — and that men don’t often need help with emotional problems.

Now, researchers are finding that because the symptoms of depression are different in men than women, the disease is equally dispersed between the genders. In fact, a study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry concludes that major depression may be even more common in men than women.

Familiar symptoms of depression are sadness, difficulty sleeping, feeling guilty or worthless, and loss of interest in formerly interesting activities. This study included the following symptoms, more commonly found among men as well: anger attacks, aggression, irritability, substance abuse, risk-taking behavior and hyperactivity.

Quintessential psychiatrist Sigmund Freud defined depression as rage turned inward. However, many men exhibit depression, not as an internal force, but as an external one. Men channel rage toward their spouses, anger toward coworkers, irritability toward friends. If the medical profession is to recognize emotional pain for what it is, the definition of depression should be expanded so that the externalizing symptoms are systematically included.

There is much to be done in the medical community before depression becomes more widely accepted as a gender-neutral illness. In the meanwhile, if you or someone you love may be suffering from depression, take into consideration the results of this study and consult your family physician. We care about your health, and treatments are readily available if a diagnosis of depression is made.

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