Men and women experience depression in different ways

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Men and women experience depression in different ways

The diagnosis of depression is established less often in men than in women, and the possible reason is the ignorance that mental illness in men has different symptoms. The concept of "male depression" in professional circles has only been developed in recent years.

It is assumed that in men, certain signs often mask the common, well-known symptoms of depression. While depressed mood, loss of interest and joy, but also feelings of guilt, reduced self-esteem, pessimism, suicidal thoughts or actions, sleep disorders, and decreased appetite in both genders can indicate depression, in men frequent irritability, aggressiveness, and risky or addictive behaviors are also observed.

behavior. "Beyond this academic discussion, the symptoms described in men should definitely be taken seriously and a doctor should be consulted," explains Johannes Wancata, Head of the Department of Social Psychiatry at the University Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy in Vienna.

Previous knowledge about the mentioned gender differences has not found its way into official diagnostics or public awareness. However, it is known that alcohol addiction occurs more often in men than in women. The question of whether it is depression "covered up" by alcohol consumption or the disease itself cannot be clearly answered according to the current state of the science.

In Austria, around 730,000 people currently live with depression, of which 264,000 are men. The fact that men are less likely to be diagnosed with depression now is only partly attributed to the fact that they are less likely than women to seek medical help.

According to research, hormones, i.e. the different density of estrogen and progesterone receptors, can also play a role.

Scientists describe gender differences in possible triggers of depression

"Numerous studies report social risk factors for the onset of depression in women.

These include the multiple burdens of household responsibilities, childcare and work. While interpersonal conflicts increase the risk of depression in women, the triggers in men are divorce, relationship breakups, and problems at work," says Wancata.

According to a study conducted in 2017 at the Medical University of Vienna, 7.4 percent of men and 12.6 percent of women in Austria suffer from depression in one year. According to Wancat, the claims that the current global crisis is causing an increasing number of patients cannot be clearly confirmed yet.

"It's perfectly healthy to respond to threats or crises with anxiety, worry or pessimism, for example. However, if symptoms persist for several weeks or more and are so pronounced that they restrict a person's ability to cope with their daily lives, mental illness should be considered." explains Wancata.