Depression is undoubtedly one of the most common mental illnesses in the world. This specific condition can leave both men and women struggling to experience simple pleasures and relief from profound feelings of exhaustion and sadness. However, most studies support the fact that men and women, while they both experience depression, experience it in different ways. As with several other mental illnesses, the symptoms and effects of depression vary between men and women.

From a generalized standpoint, the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5) states that in order to be diagnosed with depression, an individual must have at least five of the symptoms listed below occurring for a minimum of two weeks:

  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • A depressed mood during most of the day, particularly in the morning
  • A sense of restlessness or being slowed down
  • Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide (not just fearing death)
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly each day
  • Impaired concentration, indecisiveness
  • Insomnia (an inability to sleep) or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day

Also, these symptoms must be interfering with an individual’s everyday life and cannot be caused by other factors, such as the use of a substance or medication.

Depression in Women

While depression itself has an overarching diagnostic approach, the effects of depression and how it presents itself in women are specific to this particular gender.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, women are more likely to experience panic attacks and depression than men, and nearly three-quarters of women have struggled with a mental health problem at one point or another in their lives. The Mental Health Foundation states that 70% of women in comparison to 60% of men have experienced mental health problems. Specifically, depression rates in women are 45% compared to 40% in men.

One of the driving factors behind depression in women relates to the many roles that society has essentially forced them to play. For example, many women are made to feel the pressure of upholding a household, being a good spouse, being a “super mom,” and having a flourishing career, all while maintaining a thin figure and the appearance of a happy life. For most women, being able to do all of this at one time is impossible, causing a sense of failure to creep in. This feeling of failure can easily transform into guilt and sadness, and begin triggering panic attacks when all areas of life that a women is expected to uphold seem to fall apart.
In addition, hormonal changes in women that occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause leave them more susceptible to experiencing periods of depression than men. This can include postpartum depression, which affects many women after they give birth. Also, among individuals who are enlisted in the service and who have experienced combat, more women than men are vulnerable to depression, as well as women who have suffered sexual assault in the military.
Depression in Men

Even though depression is more common in women than men, that does not mean that men are not affected. In fact, men are not far behind women in their rates of depression.

Men, like women, have specific societal pressures placed upon them at an early age. It is the general notion that men should be strong, never cry, and continue to put one foot in front of the other. Sharing emotions is viewed as being weak, and reaching out for help of any kind is often perceived as a major no-no. Therefore, when men begin feeling depressed, whether it is because of these pressures, problems at work, or feelings of inadequacy, getting help is often not considered an option.
When men are grappling with depression, they tend to display different symptoms than women. These symptoms can include the following:

• Hiding feelings and emotions
• Sadness
• Irritability
• Aggressive behavior
In many instances, these symptoms make it challenging for professionals to properly diagnose depression in men, allowing it to instead fester and become more significant.

In addition to societal pressures men can experience, those men who serve in the military are also at an increased risk for struggling with depression. Additionally, other mental health conditions including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop in men, co-occurring with depression to make symptoms worse.
The most prominent factor related to men and depression is the fact that men are much less likely to obtain treatment for this mental health condition than women are. Therefore, symptoms can persist and conditions can get worse.

The Importance of Getting help

According to research published in the Psychological Bulletin, symptoms of depression can begin becoming noticeable around age 12 in both men and women. While some preventative measures are available to men and women, treatment is typically only given when depression has already set in. This is why it is imperative to ensure that you are aware of the many symptoms of depression so that if you begin grappling with them, you can reach out for help.

While taking action against your depression can be the most challenging aspect of this condition, seeking psychological treatment can change your life for the better. Depression is a highly treatable condition, and through therapy and medication, your depression can get better and you can begin to live a happy life once more.

Author's Bio: 

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