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Men and Depression

 

The story on men and depression is a troubling one. For years, depression was thought to be primarily a problem impacting women. True enough, the rates of diagnosis suggest that women are effected 5-6X as often as men.  Yet the story is far more complex. For one, men commit suicide, the most feared outcome of a depressed state, 4-6X as often as women.  Men also use more lethal means, which translates into more “successful” attempts. Further complicating the issue, is the idea of “masked depression,” suggesting that men may frequently “cover up”  their depression with externalizing behaviors. These behaviors that while unhealthy and unproductive, might be more consistent with the traditional male role. Examples include acting out, substance abuse, compulsions, aggression. Such symptoms may not be “picked up” in depression screening efforts. The last piece of the puzzle is men’s well known resistance to seeking help. If men don’t go to the doctor or psychologist, they won’t be diagnosed  as depressed. Of course, they will then never receive the treatments (counseling and medication) that are available and effective for men and women.  I’m interested in all of these concepts, related research, and making a differences on this growing concern in our culture.