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Depression & Mental Health Blog
July 7, 2021
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How Depression is Different in Men and Women

Though some symptoms overlap, depression can affect men and women differently. Learning to recognize the symptoms of depression in both genders is crucial to understanding how to help a loved one who is depressed get the help they need.

What Is Depression?

Clinical depression is often diagnosed for people who meet certain medical criteria, one of which is length of time the person has been affected by feelings of sadness or discouragement. If you have been feeling depressed or hopeless for longer than two weeks, you may have clinical depression. This is a treatable condition, but it can worsen if left unchecked. Here's how men and women experience depression differently.

Depression In Women

Women suffer a higher incidence of depression than men, which may be due to their hormone shifts and biological causes. These numbers may also be skewed because women report feelings of depression more than men. Women's depression may be more likely to develop because of their tendency to ruminate about their emotions, whereas men are more likely to distract themselves from emotions when they feel sad or upset. Women are more vulnerable to depression after a stressful event such as a death of a loved one or a job loss. As stress hormones interact with a woman's mood-regulating hormones and reproductive hormones, they may also become vulnerable to depression.

Depression In Men

When men become depressed, it may be tougher for loved ones to recognize. While women may be more inclined to cry, men may become angry or more irritable. Though men suffer a lower incidence of depression, in part, because they are less likely to express their feelings, they are more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs. It's also important to note that men are more likely than women to commit suicide.

The Definitive Difference

While there are various reasons, both biologically and socially, for how depression is different in men and women, the definitive one is that men are less likely to show that they are depressed. This may be due to their biological makeup and/or an ability to deflect their thoughts away from their feelings. A big part of this is cultural gender norms and societal expectations – men feel compelled to show strength even in the face of profound emotional distress. Unfortunately, mistaking depression for weakness may cause men to avoid treatment for longer – very much to their detriment. During this time, their depression can worsen. It is important for us as individuals to approach people with openness and acceptance, so they feel safe to express their emotions, both happy and sad.

Treatment For Depression

Both men and women can benefit greatly from psychotherapy and antidepressants when it comes to depression. Because men and women are different, their therapy programs for depression will be structured slightly different to be customized to their individual needs. The one thing that doesn't change is the necessity of treatment: the sooner both men and women seek treatment, the sooner they can manage their condition in a healthy, constructive manner. If you are suffering from depression, you should seek treatment. Depression is a serious mental disorder that isn't likely to go away on its own. Treatment can help sufferers overcome their current bout with depression and may even arm them with coping strategies for preventing depressive episodes down the road. The Mental Health Center at Destination Hope has patient-focused programs that combine various treatment approaches in order to ensure the best treatment program to allow people to live a happier and healthier life.

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