Depression is a serious mood disorder with a feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and guilt. It has become increasingly common in this generation, and the physicians refer it as “the common cold of psychiatry. Depression may be mild to moderate and sometimes severe. The type of depression a person has will largely determine what kind of medical treatment the person should receive. There are two main categories of depression namely major depressive disorder and dysthymia. Major depressive disorder is a serious clinical mood disorder that severely impacts a person’s everyday life and well-being. Dysthymia usually begins earlier in life and can be a precursor to a more serious depressive episode or personality disorder. It is considered a “milder” form of depression when compared to major depressive disorder (MDD).
Depression is observed in all the age groups including children. But men and women experience it in different ways. Women and men are at higher risk of depression if there is a family history of depression. It is believed that women are twice as likely to experience depression as men. They are more likely to treat depression as physical symptoms while men usually hide their symptoms.
Most of the symptoms are same, but few are different in men and women. The common symptoms include:
- Feeling sad or “empty”
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Poor concentration
- Changes in sleep habits
- Eating disorders
- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempt
- Few physical symptoms like pain, headache or digestive problems
Symptoms like anxiety, increased appetite, weight gain, oversleeping and anger are more common in women. Apathy, reduced sexual drive, fatigue, and suicidal thoughts are commonly observed in men. Men are less apt to cry or express sadness openly and use drugs or alcohol to cope their depression. They try very hard to tough it out but end up with more serious or overwhelming depression.
Difference in affects of depression in men and women
Women are more likely to ruminate when feeling depressed
Dwelling on and rehashing negative feelings, known as ruminating, occurs more commonly in women who have depression in comparison to men who have the illness. This behavior may involve negative self-talk, crying for no obvious reason and blaming oneself.
Women may respond differently to stressful life events.Sexual and physical abuse
Research has proved that those women who have experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse during childhood or teenage are more likely to suffer from depression at some point in their lives. They are twice as likely to suffer sexual abuse as men. Research also shows that nearly 3 out of 5 women with depression have a history of abuse.
Men with depression are more likely to abuse alcohol and other substances
Men may drink heavily or turn to illegal drugs to medicate themselves prior to the onset of depression. Depressed men may also try to mask their sadness by turning to other outlets, such as TV, sports and working excessively, or engaging in risky behaviors, such as gambling or smoking.
Women are more likely than men to have depression and a co-existing eating disorder
Depression and eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, often go hand in hand. Depression is also much more likely to occur at the same time as an anxiety disorder in women, such as panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive behavior.
Women get easily diagnosed with depression when compared to men as they are more likely to consult a physician and discuss their feelings irrespective of the physician’ gender. In most of the cases, men try to suppress their feelings and experiences.
Men are more likely to commit suicide
Because depression symptoms in men can go longer without being diagnosed or treated, the condition might develop into a more devastating mental health problem. Men suffering from depression are also more likely to be successful than women when they attempt suicide.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes a healthy diet and getting enough sleep in addition to exercise, is a proven way to help prevent depression in the future.
1) Ronald C. Epidemiology of women and depression. March 2003, Volume 74, Issue 1, Pages 5–13.