Male Depression - Signs and Diagnosis

"Tests used to diagnose depression can only test men to a lesser extent..

Men with depression are significantly more likely than women to show excessive aggression, risky behavior, and substance abuse.", - reports the magazine "JAMA Psychiatry".

According to the authors, this can be explained by the fact that in men depression is detected much less frequently than in women.

"Depression is generally considered a disease typical of women, as they are diagnosed twice as often.", - says co-author Dr. Lisa A. Martin of the University of Michigan at Dearborn (USA).

For decades, scientists have been looking for explanations for these imbalances. So far, the main explanation has been that women are simply more prone to depression.

But is it really so?

Dr. Martin and his team analyzed data from a study on American Mental Health (National Comorbidity Survey Replication). In total, they cover more than 3 thousand women and more than 2 thousand men. Their average age is just over 45 years. More than half of them had a higher education.

Signs of Male Depression

When diagnosing depression, scientists took into account traditional symptoms - sadness, a sense of hopelessness, a drop in vitality and a feeling of fatigue, fears, anxiety, ambivalence. We also took into account signs that were considered more typical for "male" Depressions, such as: attacks of anger and aggression, excessive use of alcohol or other substances, addiction, suicidal behavior (for example, taking risky decisions), hyperactivity, irritability, stress, sleep disturbances, loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable.

The percentage of men and women who had depression (mild, moderate or severe) calculated on this basis did not differ significantly - 30.6% and 33.3%, respectively.

Risky Behavior, Aggression, and Alcohol Abuse - Male Depression?

In general, the most common symptoms of both sexes were: poor mood, bouts of anger / aggression, tension, irritability, fear or anxiety. However, it turned out that men suffering from depression are more likely than women with this disease to make risky decisions (almost 53% of men versus 29% of women), abuse alcohol and other addictive substances (61% versus about 41%), anger / aggression (about 95% against 89%).

What is interesting is that when using only the scale of depression, taking into account the signs inherent in "male" depression, the proportion of patients with this disease was greater among men than among women - 26.3% and 21.9%, respectively. Women suffering from depression are more likely than men to experience stress, fears, bad mood, sleep disturbance, a sense of hopelessness and a loss of interest in pleasant things.

They were more often sensitive, although it was still thought to be an important symptom of male depression..

Diagnostic criteria not suitable for men?

"Diagnostic criteria for depression may address symptoms that are more common in women," - scientists warn and note at the same time that, as their work has shown, the symptoms are attributed to "male" depressions also appear quite often among the fair sex.

Therefore, in their opinion, it is important that doctors trying to diagnose or rule out depression, are interested in patients of both sexes about irritability, aggression, excessive use of alcohol and other addictive substances.

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