Gender Stereotypes May Be Stopping Men from Getting Help

As a society, we are trying to move away from gender stereotypes and see people as individuals. When noticing symptoms of depression in women, for example, we try to get away from the idea that women are emotional creatures who experience deep sadness sometimes. Instead, we recognize a mental health problem that needs professional care. But when it comes to recognizing the symptoms  in men, we still have a long way to go.

Depression occurs twice as often in women as in men. At least we think so. It could be that there are many more cases of depression in men that go unidentified because doctors see depression more as a women’s illness. Male depression actually has its own classification because the symptoms of male depression are very different than with women. Of course, individuals may present differently, but overall symptoms may include:

  • Escapist behavior (spending more time at work or with sports)
  • Substance abuse
  • Controlling or abusive behavior
  • Irritability
  • Risky or reckless behavior.

Recently a study from the University of Westminster has shown that a person’s ability to identify depressive symptoms is worse when the subject is male. 1,200 participants read a short fictional story about either Jack or Kate. Both stories were identical except for the name. More participants said that Kate showed signs of depression and that Jack did not.

“A lot of attention has been paid to depression in women, and with good reason: depression is twice as common in women,” said Dr. James B. Potash, editor of the study, who works as a professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa. “There has been relatively little focus on education about depression in men. This [study] emphasizes the importance of figuring out how to get through to men that depression can be disabling and treatment is important.”


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