Harvard Mental Health Letter

Men and depression

In treatments, attention must be paid to sexual and other issues.

Depression is sometimes called the common cold of mental health, but it's unlike the common cold in at least two important respects: It doesn't go away in a week without treatment, and it doesn't affect men and women equally or in the same ways. Although attention is rightly paid mainly to the causes and consequences of women's high rate of depression, the disorder also presents special problems for men.

At every age, men have worse health than women and a higher death rate. They also have a higher — often much higher — risk of many psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, alcoholism, drug addiction, and autism. So it is remarkable that the rate of diagnosed depression is much lower in men almost everywhere in the world. In the United States, about half as many men as women become seriously depressed at some time in their lives. Men suffer less major depression, less dysthymia (chronic mild to moderate depression), and probably less bipolar depression (although the rate of bipolar disorder is the same in both sexes).

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