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Nearly twice as many women are diagnosed with depression than men. A recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry looked at this gender disparity by considering alternative symptoms and found that depression can strike men just as frequently as women.
Lisa A. Martin, PhD, and her team analyzed data from a national mental health survey of 3,310 women and 2,382 men looking for alternative symptoms for depression. Their goal was to find out if gender differences in depression rates would disappear when alternative, more male-centric symptoms were considered alongside the more traditional ones.
Some of the “male-type” symptoms included anger attacks, aggression, substance abuse and risk-taking. The researchers found that when both traditional and alternative symptoms are taken into consideration, men and women met the criteria for depression in equal measure. About 30.6 percent of men and 33.3 percent of women could be classified as depressed.
“When men are depressed, they may experience symptoms that are different than what is included in current diagnostic criteria,” Martin stated, suggesting that medical professionals should think about these additional symptoms when diagnosing depression in men.
Researchers also believe that future studies should look at how gender influences the way depression presents. Doctors should try to understand “how masculinity and femininity influence depression rates rather than relying on sex alone as an indicator.”
Since more women than men tend to seek help for depression and are thus more likely to be diagnosed, identifying symptoms may skew more toward the feminine. There may be other symptoms, even more pronounced symptoms, associated with male depression.
“The results of this work have the potential to bring significant advances to the field in terms of perception and measurement of depression,” according to the report.
Source: MedicalNewsToday, JAMA Psychiatry
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