Study Shows Men and Women Suffer Depression Equally But Differently

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Male DepressionFor years, data has suggested that there is a substantial discrepancy between the rates of depression in men and women. Women are diagnosed with depression at twice the rate of men, and literature has repeatedly confirmed the gap. However, a subanalysis of the National Comorbidity Survey suggests that the issue may be how we are diagnosing the condition.

According to the a report from Helio Psychiatry, depression scales that include both traditional and alternative symptoms for depression found men and women experience the condition at similar rates. Interestingly, diagnosis methods based only on alternative symptoms resulted in higher depression rates for men.

A team from the University of Michigan, led by Lisa A. Martin, PhD, evaluated depression in 5,692 adults. In a press release, Martin stated, “when men are depressed they may experience symptoms that are different than what is included in current diagnostic criteria.”

In an attempt to accommodate for those differences, the researchers used the Male Symptoms Scale (MSS), which focuses on male-associates expressions of depression such as:

  • Irritability
  • Anger issues or aggression
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Risk-taking behavior
  • Hyperactivity
  • Stress
  • Loss of interest in activities

They then compared these findings to normal depression rates and evaluations using the Gender Depression Scale (GIDS) which is based on each of the MSS assessments, as well as the traditional depression symptoms.

All study participants met the criteria set by the DSM-IV for any core disorder. The overall results of the MSS found depression more commonly in men than women.

“These results suggest that relying only on men’s disclosure of traditional symptoms could lead to an underdiagnosis of depression in men and that clinicians should consider other clues when assessing depression in men,” the researchers wrote.

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