Depression Awareness: Gender Differences

Vol. 6 No. 7

riskmanager eletter Vol6 No7 depression

Depression is a very real disease. Melancholy moments are something we all deal with from time to time. However, clinical depression is depression lingering for two or more weeks that significantly interferes with daily life—and is not an emotional state that everyone experiences. It does not discriminate. Depression affects people of all ages, nationalities, genders, and religious orientations. And, it’s costly. Each year, employers spend billions in sick time and medical costs related to depression.

Although not discriminating, depression affects genders and age groups differently. The symptoms affecting men are not the same as those that affect women, and can easily be overlooked as “just something bothering them” or even dismissed. Yet, over the past decade, there has been an increase in the percentage of men being diagnosed with depression. According to WebMD, six million men in the U.S. fight depression each year.

Until recently, a lot of men didn’t connect their physical ailments to their feelings. Nor did the medical industry. However, a research study by Jama Psychiatry published in 2013 revealed men are more likely than women to suffer from depression. They observed a prevalence of depression in 26.3% men in comparison to a prevalence of depression in 21.9% of women.

Men suffering from depression don’t always show sadness or what most of us consider typical symptoms of depression. Depression can surface in men as anger, aggression, irritability, fatigue, sexual difficulties, sleeplessness, increased drinking of alcohol, and other risky behaviors including drug use. The Jama Psychiatry report confirmed the differences in how the different sexes exhibit depression, concluding men show higher rates of anger attacks/aggression, substance abuse, and risk-taking behavior in comparison to women struggling with depression show higher rates of irritability, sleep problems, and loss of interest in things they used to enjoy.

Awareness is key in diagnosing depression. Depression is a progressive disease that waves multiple red flags before reaching a critical level. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it takes the average person dealing with depression ten years to ask for help.

Be aware of changes in loved ones around you—be aware of your personal mental state. Depression is not a weakness. If you think someone around you is showing symptoms of depression, encourage them, gently, to seek professional treatment. The first steps are the hardest ones to take for someone battling depression. Be supportive by helping them come up with a list of questions to ask a doctor, listening to them discuss their feelings if they want to talk, and helping them find a doctor within their insurance network.

Men battling depression might feel guilty or ashamed in seeking treatment. Remind them that depression is a disease just like heart disease or thyroid disorder—there is no shame in seeking treatment.

If you think you’re struggling with depression, don’t give up—get yourself the assistance you deserve. PsychCentral offers a searchable database of licensed therapists and psychiatrists.

Advocates and activists are gearing up for May, Mental Health Awareness Month. However, schools and individuals don’t have to wait for another flip of the calendar to make an impact. Last March, Michele Obama launched the Change Direction campaign geared to bring attention to mental health illnesses. Schools, non-profits, and organizations alike can join the cause, make a pledge, and access resources such as website tools, sample tweets, and printable materials from the campaign site.

Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Risk Managers Vol. 6 No. 4 Staying Positive in Negative Environments
The Source for Private School News Vol. 9 No. 4 A Teenager’s Search for Happiness
The Source for Private School News Vol. 13 No. 8 Robin Williams: Inspiration From His Private School
The Source for Private School News Vol. 13 No. 2 Bullying: Address the Problem, Attack the Cause

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