Men suffer depression just as much as women do – contrary to popular perception – but their symptoms may be angry and irritable rather than sad and teary. And they may turn to drink and work to help them get through. That’s according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, which explores gender differences in depression symptoms.
Researchers from the University of Michigan looked at ‘traditional’ depressive symptoms, such as crying and sadness, and ‘alternative’ depressive symptoms. For men, instead of openly showing their emotions, their feelings may come out in behaviours such as distraction, substance use, gambling, womanising, workaholism and risk-taking. Importantly, said the study, “irritability could be the key symptom linking men and depression”. When combining those traditional and alternative signs, the researchers found that 31% of men and 33% of women met the criteria for depression.
The study explained its findings: “Men are more likely to express their emotional and psychological distress in the form of “depressive equivalents” because direct admission of sadness and emotional weakness or vulnerability in men is seen as socially unacceptable.”