Gender’s Role in Depression: Depression in Men

According to the ICD-10 classifications manual issued by the World Health Organization, there are generally three varieties of depression specific episodes’ individuals suffer from, and they are mild, moderate and severe.

All three types share many common symptoms lasting two or more weeks, that include: inhibited concentration, a loss of interest or enjoyment in life, increased self-consciousness and self-awareness, feelings of guilt and regret, irritability, a dismal future outlook, ideations of suicide or self-harm, insomnia or oversleeping, decreased libido and a diminished or augmented appetite. In many individuals, depression manifests itself through physical symptoms, resulting in motor dysfunctionality. Typically, individuals who suffer from mild depression still able to participate in their day to day activities with some difficulty. However, those who suffer from moderate to severe depression have significant difficulty maintaining their usual work and social activities, often times unable to engage in either altogether. While depression can affect everyone regardless of factors such as age, socioeconomic status and environment, epidemiological research has revealed gender plays a significant role in when it comes to the occurrence, effects and symptoms of all forms of depression.

According to the National Institute of Health, on average, depression in men is half of depression rates that affect women, but differences expand far beyond just its prevalence. Depression is triggered among men similarly as it is women, most commonly caused by either genetics, a change in brain chemistry or hormones – which can occur because slightly different reasons – and stress, caused by such events such as the death of a loved one or problems at work. The symptoms of male depression vary slightly from those of females in their expression. WebMD cites the common symptoms of depression experienced by males as a loss of interest in activities once deemed pleasurable, fatigue, a change in appetite, disrupted sleep patterns, irritability, hostility and isolation. Women however, more often experience feelings of sadness and worthlessness. Depression has a more profound effect on male sexuality, as it can impact libido as well as performance.

do men get depressedMen are less likely to exhibit noticeable signs of depression, like sadness, often causing them to repress such emotions, because of the societal paradigms forced on them at a young age, which have molded their behaviors and reinforced the importance of appearing ‘tough’. Because of this, depression in men often goes untreated, which can have dangerous and devastating ramifications. Results from a 2013 study conducted by the CDC, revealed males committed suicide four times as often as their female counterparts and represented nearly 80% of all suicides, making suicide the seventh leading cause of death for males and the fourteenth leading cause of death for females. The study also exposed that suicidal thoughts are more prevalent among females, providing further evidence that demonstrated how detrimental underdiagnosing male depression can really be. The American Psychological Association indicates that men are more likely to use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate and relieve symptoms of depression than women are; however, the extent of these behaviors are still under investigation, as the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that overall, men account for two-thirds of the population who suffer from alcohol abuse and around half of the population who suffer from substance abuse issues related to other drugs.

Treatment options for depression have proven equally as effective across both genders, with antidepressants, cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectal behavioral therapy being the best mechanisms of action in treating depression. Gender can come into play when it comes to the impact of treatment. For example, studies have indicated the prevalence of sexual problems associated with the use of antidepressants to be much higher among men. Additionally, men are less likely to seek treatment at all, due to many of the gender biases and stigmas associated with depression.

Depression often cannot be treated with any medication; however, a new treatment, called deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (deep TMS) has been proven to help ease depression treatments. Deep TMS has recently been FDA-approved to fight treatment resistant depression. In Los Angeles, Westside Neurotherapeutics, offer these non-invasive and affordable treatments. For more information, contact them at 310.946.0008.

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