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Stanford Medicine

Men's Health, Mental Health

How gender differences shape attitudes toward depression

Depression is largely seen as a women’s heath issue and statistics back up this notion, showing that we are 70 percent more likely than men to get the blues. But new research shows this gender gap may cause signs of depression among men to be overlooked and result in them not getting the help they need.

For the study, British researchers asked more than 1,200 adults to read a short narrative about a person exhibiting symptoms of depression. Half the stories referred to a female character, while the other half involved a male character. Afterwards volunteers were asked if they thought the vignettes described someone who might have a mental health condition and how likely they were to suggest the person seek help for it. The Atlantic reports:

Participants were significantly more likely to assert that Jack wasn’t suffering from a mental disorder. Men, in particular, were more likely than women to come to this conclusion. On the other hand, men and women were equally likely to conclude that Kate had a mental disorder.

Respondents, particularly men, rated Kate’s case as significantly more distressing, difficult to treat, and deserving of sympathy than they did Jack’s case. And women were more likely than men to think that Jack’s story was distressing.

The findings reminded me of a Scope Q&A last year where my colleague spoke with patient advocate Mark Meier about how the belief that depression is a women’s issue gets in the way of men getting help and the need to raise awareness to overcome this mental health roadblock.

Previously: Breaking the silence about depression among men, Gender differences and mental health and Why are women more likely to need mental-health help?
Photo by Lloyd Morgan

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