Depression just as common in men, but it may look different than you think

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Depression has often been associated with symptoms such as sadness, apathy and anxiety. But researchers are coming to understand that depression can manifest itself differently in men than it does in women - and as a result, men s depression has been under diagnosed.

Researchers looking to understand the disparities in depression rates between men and women found that when symptoms such as anger, aggression and drug abuse were accounted for, those disparities disappeared.

The study, published online in JAMA psychiatry, used data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), including 3,310 women and 2,382 men. Researchers developed two scales. The Male Symptoms Scale (MSS), included alternative male-type symptoms such as irritability, anger, aggression, alcohol or drug abuse, hyperactivity, and risk taking behavior. The second was the Gender Inclusive Symptoms Scale (GISS), which included typical symptoms used to measure depression, such as tiredness, ambivalence, depressed mood and anxiety in addition to the symptoms included in the MSS.

When using the MSS scale, researchers found that 26% of men met criteria for depression compared to 22% of women. When using the GISS scale, including symptoms associated with men and previous diagnostic symptoms, there was no significant difference between the sexes in depression rates. According to that scale, 31% of men, and 33% of women were depressed.

The study could have important consequences for the diagnosis of depression in men. According to ACSH s associate director of public health Ariel Savransky, What this really comes down to is that physicians and psychiatrists need to pay more attention to men with atypical symptoms, because these men also need help dealing with their emotional stress. Men are four times more likely than women to commit suicide, so this really has the potential to be life changing for some individuals.