Depression: Men vs. Women
Depression is a mental disorder that causes feelings of extreme sadness, worthlessness, or even suicidal thoughts in those that suffer from it. It affects both men and women, but women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men. About one in five women develop depression at some point. It can occur at any age, but it’s most common in women between the ages of 40 and 59.
Depression: Men vs. Women: Symptoms
Men and women usually present the same set of depression symptoms. These can include depressed mood, lack of motivation, loss of pleasure, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, feelings of guilt and difficulty concentrating. Women, however, more often show visible signs of emotion, such as crying, while men tend to show less emotion. Irritability and anger are more prevalent in men.
These symptom differences may occur because of the traditional gender roles of men and women. Women are able to communicate their feelings more easily and ask for help. Men are expected to be strong. They are conditioned not to express their feelings, so their emotions may be suppressed and then bubble to the surface in other forms, like anger.
Women are also more likely to exhibit atypical symptoms of depression. These can include sleeping excessively and overeating, instead of typical symptoms like insomnia and loss of appetite.
Depression: Men vs. Women: Prevalence
Women experience major depression about twice as likely as men. There are several factors that could account for the difference. The peak of depression symptom onset for women coincides with their reproductive years (25-44 years old), so hormone changes could play a role. In addition, differences in socialization could play a role. Studies show that women have a more emotion-focused coping style which could lead to longer and severe episodes in depression. Finally, women may experience more stressful life events and have a greater sensitivity towards them than men.
Some researchers have actually suggested that there may be no difference in prevalence of depression between women and men. They have proposed the idea that it may just be that more women seek help for depression than men, leading to them being diagnosed more often. However, other studies do seem to indicate that women are in fact more susceptible.
Depression: Men vs. Women: Suicide
Men and women also have different methods of suicide. Men tend to choose more violent methods of suicide, so their suicide attempts succeed more often. These methods include hanging, vehicle exhaust gas, asphyxiation, and use of firearms. Women are more likely to choose self-poisoning.
Men actually die from suicide more often which is due at least in part to the lethality of the chosen method. However, women are more likely to engage in deliberate self-harm. Deliberate self-harm includes any type of self-harming behavior, whether or not the intent is suicidal. Differences in gender roles may account for these differences in suicide behavior. Men are more inclined to reject the idea of failure, which may cause them to choose a more lethal and violent method of suicide.